Yoan Moncada's Season A Big Hit For White Sox

After struggling in 2018, Moncada has been a feel-good story this year.

Bruce Levine
September 11, 2019 - 10:35 pm
White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- In one of the feel-good stories of the White Sox's third rebuilding season, third baseman Yoan Moncada has produced the type of season that's in line with the hype that accompanied him when he arrived from the Red Sox in a trade in December 2016.

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Moncada struggled in 2018, hitting .235 with a .713 OPS and striking out 217 times, which was the fourth-most in MLB history. He has responded with a breakout season, hitting .301 with 23 homers, 68 RBIs and an .890 OPS entering play Wednesday. He also dropped his strikeout rate from 33.4 percent to 27.5 percent.

His rapid improvement can be attributed to hard work and maturity, manager Rick Renteria said.

"The biggest difference is he has been more proactive with men on base," Renteria said. "He has had a huge improvement cutting down on his strikeouts. He has improved greatly putting the ball in play."

On Tuesday, Moncada and rookie outfielder Eloy Jimenez hit homers in the same game for the first time in their careers. It was a glimpse of what the White Sox hope is to come. As core pieces, they'll be counted on in future seasons to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers in the middle of the order.

"Next year, Yoan will find pitchers trying to stay away a little more from him," Renteria said. "He will have to adjust and start taking walks. In general this year, his aggressiveness in the zone, his willingness to do more damage has been a big plus. I think if he continues to jump on pitches earlier in counts, it will show him doing a lot of damage. He got into deep counts last year that resulted in many called strikeouts. This year, his mindset was not to let the umpire take the bat out of his hand."

Moncada struggled defensive at second base in 2018, committing 21 errors. He has found more comfort in his shift to third base in the offseason. He has 14 errors this season.

"We always expected because of the information we had that he would do well at third base," Renteria said. "We see he is extremely explosive and has a lot of range at third base. He can throw the ball from many different arm angles. He has been very, very good overall. He is already one of the best, and we are sure he is going to continue to improve."

Moncada has been pleased by his improvement, though not satisfied. He credits first baseman Jose Abreu and other teammates for "carrying him" at times and being mentors. 

"The success I have had this year was done to the work I put in the offseason," Moncada said. "That and the experiences I had last year put me in a better position to succeed this year. I have better knowledge about the league and the routine I need to follow. They all add up to working hard and getting better.

"I don't take anything for granted. I know I need to continue to work this hard, and in order to do that, I can't think that I am the third baseman no matter what. Every day is a battle, and I need to prepare myself each day like I am in a battle. My mindset is I want to play a very long time, and hard work will be the key to that I hope."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.