Yoan Moncada Shines In 'All-Star-Quality' First Half

Though he isn't an All-Star, Moncada takes pride in his breakout season.

Chris Emma
July 07, 2019 - 12:54 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Now in his second full MLB season, Yoan Moncada has better learned how to prepare for each day, control his approach from both sides of the plate and stay focused defensively as the White Sox's everyday third baseman.

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But what Moncada couldn't control amid a breakout 2019 season is whether others would view his first half as worthy of an All-Star selection. It turned out that despite his strong production, Moncada will be on the outside looking in when the All-Star Game is held in Cleveland on Tuesday.

"I had a very good first half," Moncada said Sunday of not being selected to the All-Star Game. "That's what mattered to me. I'm very happy with it.

"I put my efforts in the first half. I worked hard. I was able to carry over all the work I did during the offseason."

Entering Sunday, the 24-year-old Moncada had 16 home runs and 48 RBIs with a slash line of .308/.363/.546. Those are drastic improvements over his 2018, when he hit 17 home runs and had 61 RBIs with slash line of .235/.315/.400 for the season. Moncada has cut down on his strikeout rate, is seeing pitches better and even hitting for power as a right-handed hitter.

But Moncada lost out on the All-Star Game to stars at third base in the Astros' Alex Bregman and Athletics' Matt Chapman. In Boston, the locals are wondering why American League manager Alex Cora didn't select Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers as a reserve.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria certainly sees Moncada as an All-Star.

"It goes without saying," Renteria said. "I think if anybody looks at the numbers, the way he has performed, he's an All-Star-quality player. I pull for these guys every day. But I think he has shown everybody that he can really do it."

The White Sox and Moncada can savor the fact that a cornerstone piece of their rebuild has proved his place. He's on pace to surpass 30 home runs this season, is hitting above .300 and could be a 6.0 WAR player at the end of the year. 

Having experienced growing pains a year ago -- including leading MLB with 217 strikeouts -- the success is something Moncada takes pride in. In the mind of Renteria, it reminds that development can take time.

"The biggest piece to that puzzle is patience," Renteria said. "The biggest piece to that is not allowing them to take into account all the noise that surrounds them. These guys are playing every single day. It's hard to play a major league season, let alone trying to play every single day and to perform. You got to eliminate noise.

"Some of it is self-imposed, because they gravitate this day in age now, all these youngsters want to see all the likes and dislikes of everything they do and don't do. I mean, that can affect you. You have to understand that you live in every moment while you're out there between the lines. Keep that in perspective."

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has referred to this season as the end of the beginning for the organization's rebuilding process. The light at the end of the tunnel is being shined by players like Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson. The White Sox are more competitive and showing they could be ready to compete for a championship in the coming years.

Moncada will be a key part of that quest. For now, he remains driven by his goals -- even after getting a taste of success.

"Be an All-Star," Moncada said. "We couldn’t do it this year. Maybe next year. And, of course, be a champion."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.