Yoan Moncada has started his second full pro season about as well as anyone could’ve hoped for. If not for the blistering start from Tim Anderson, Moncada would arguably be the most productive offensive player on the White Sox so far.
Regression is likely to happen, as it is with anyone not named Mike Trout. For Yoan, his .370 BABIP (batting average of balls in play) compared to his career .344 BABIP suggests that the rate of baseballs falling where defenders aren’t is likely to drop, but not so significantly that it affects the numbers that matter to a player like Moncada.
Last season, Yoan’s plate appearances resulted in strikeouts a dismal 33% of the time and 49% of the outs he made were in strikeout form. So far in 2019, only 22% of his plate appearances have resulted in Ks, a 33% improvement, and only 31% of his outs have come via strikeout, a 37% improvement.
There are reasons to suggest this drop in strikeouts isn’t just the result of a good start to his season. His contact rate has improved by 8% compared to 2018 and he even appears to be swinging more often. His called strikes percentage has gone down by 13% and he’s swinging at 5% more first pitches than he did a year ago, giving credence to the “just fucking swing” mentality that many Sox fans adopted while seeing Yoan take so many strikes in 2018.
Obviously, we can’t isolate those fans who think numbers are for nerds and people who never played the game. If those dinosaurs are watching, they’d notice Moncada simply looks more comfortable this season. At times in 2018, Yoan’s expressions ranged from “somebody shot my dog” to utterly confused while striking out 217 times.
If I was on pace to grab some bench 68 times fewer than I did a year ago, I’d be in a good mood too.