It's the Year of the Yoan
You already know how optimistic we are about the White Sox (both in 2020 and beyond). With much of the focus on emerging ace Lucas Giolito, sophomore slugger Eloy Jimenez, and exciting prospect Luis Robert, second baseman Yoan Moncada has somehow fallen out of the limelight.
The baseball world will once again be focused on the exciting infielder in 2020. It wasn’t too long ago that Moncada was considered the definitive best prospect in baseball, and that sentiment was all but confirmed when the Red Sox dealt him to Chicago for perennial Cy Young contender Chris Sale.
Unfortunately, seemingly everybody jumped off the bandwagon following Moncada’s underwhelming rookie campaign. While he finished that season with solid counting stats (17 homers, 61 RBIs, 73 runs), he struggled in batting average (.235) and OPS (.714). Worst of all, he led the league in strikeouts, and he was regarded as a below-average fielder by Rtot.
With much less hype heading into the 2019 season, Moncada exploded into the player we all expected. He batted above .300, compiled 25 homers, 79 RBIs, and 83 runs, and he had a bonkers OPS for a second baseman (.915). He also improved immensely on defense. That performance earned him a handful of MVP votes.
Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story. Moncada is still only freaking 24 years old, and he surely hasn’t reached his final form. Plus, while Moncada could easily get lost in a lineup that also includes sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu, it sounds like he’s more-than-willing to place a specific role for this squad.
“I would like to hit in the second spot of the lineup,” he said on Friday (via Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago). “That’s where I feel more comfortable…Like I said before, I’m open to be in any spot of the lineup. I’m here to help the team. I’m here to make the team better, and whatever position they give me I’m going to be good with it.”
Humble, self-aware, and young enough to improve. Second base continues to be one of the most talent-lacking positions in all of baseball, and the advantage that Moncada provides the Sox is practically unmatched. It shouldn’t even be long before he supplants those aforementioned sluggers, and he should be the driving force of a potent lineup for many years.
Sure, the White Sox’ 2020 hopes don’t solely lie on Moncada’s shoulders. However, when pundits discuss why Chicago could emerge as a contender next season, the team’s second baseman should be at the forefront of the conversation.