As the 2019 season progresses, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Yoan Moncada is the best player on the White Sox (for now). His numbers are already fantastic, and he’s only getting better. Right now, he’s sporting a .301/.358/.532 line. Factor in some solid defense and his 20-some games missed to injury and he’s ranked 13th in fWAR/game out of all position players.
No other position player on the team comes close to Moncada’s overall offensive value. Tim Anderson is having a wonderful year, but Moncada is a step up.
That said, it’s time Rick Renteria starts treating Moncada like the elite player he is. Recently, Ricky has been batting Yoan in the cleanup spot. It seemed to work well at first, as Moncada blasted a three-run dinger on July 22nd in his first game batting fourth. He then got injured and upon returning the results have been nothing special, with Moncada recording 9 RBIs over 27 total bases. My point? Yoan Moncada is so valuable that his number of plate appearances should be maximized and he should bat first or second.
Take a look around the league, and you’ll see that teams are catching on when it comes to batting their best player in the top third of the order. Mike Trout bats second. Christian Yelich, Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, and Paul Goldschmidt bat third. The list goes on and on, with the exception of a few lucky teams (Dodgers, Astros, Yankees) who are so talented that a guy with a .900+ OPS bats fifth and it really doesn’t matter. As we all know, the Sox are not one of those teams.
It might seem sensible on the surface to put your crown jewel in a run-producing spot, but it usually doesn’t work out. Instead of hoping for runners to be on for a guy like Moncada, statistics prove it’s better to prioritize their plate appearances. More opportunities = more runs. With Jose Abreu seemingly entrenched in the #3 spot, Moncada can shine as a #1 or #2 hitter.
He did just that in the three-game set against the Angels, where he batted first once and second twice with Renteria not managing. Moncada finished the series 7-10 with 3 runs and 1 RBI, which albeit a tiny sample size is miles better than his decent showings as a cleanup hitter.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is all the rage these days. Last week, he became the second player under the age of 22 to record 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season. He’s probably going to achieve the absurd 40/40 mark, too. If only the White Sox had a guy like th—oh wait, they have two!
If Tim Anderson wasn’t sidelined for over a month, then he would be looking at a potential 25/25 season, which would be a commendable accomplishment. I have no issues there.
However, Moncada wouldn’t be close even without his injuries, as he sits at just 9 stolen bases on 12 attempts currently. Can somebody explain to me why a guy with blazing, 70-grade speed is sitting at just 9 steals over 80 singles? I don’t know if Moncada or the team is hesitant, because Anderson appears to have a green light. But someone along the line needs to be way more aggressive. There’s little downside, as a 75% success rate means attempting steals is perfectly worth the risk.
If you put my two ideas together, you’re going to have a lot more first innings with a runner in scoring position (Moncada) and less than two outs for Jose Abreu. That sounds much better than Moncada leading off the second or coming to bat with two outs in the first inning, which are the most common outcomes currently.
As he went through the system, Yoan was billed as the pinnacle five-tool player. He’s shown the ability to be that guy, and now it’s time for the White Sox to ensure they properly utilize his tools.
Featured Photo: Chris Tejeda/@FotoGenocide_