Over the next couple of months, I’m going to take a stab at projecting some outcomes for White Sox players likely to be on the 2021 roster this spring. This will include the franchise cornerstones, players on the 40-man roster that had a cup of coffee in 2020 or are expected to contribute in ’21, and eventually new additions to the roster as we make our way through the rest of the winter.
You can expect to see a new player featured once every other day from now until spring training, which is tentatively slated to kick off in mid-February when pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch.
Each edition of this project will feature a snapshot of the player’s 2020 season, compiled projections from sources such as ZiPS and FanGraphs’ Steamer projections, and conclude with some of my own thoughts and projections on the player.
We’ll kick things off with Yoan Moncada, who after a disappointing 2020 campaign is primed to be a bounce-back player this season.
Coming off of his best season in 2019, Yoan Moncada’s 2020 campaign was riddled with the fatigue-related effects of battling the COVID-19 virus in July.
Despite opening the season on a tear just removed from his bout with the Coronavirus, the fatigue caught up with Moncada after the first two weeks of the season. During his first 13 games of the season, Moncada slashed .315/.383/.481/.864 with two home runs, five RBI, three doubles, and a 141 wRC+ over a span of 60 plate appearances.
In those first two weeks, Moncada looked like he was picking up right where he left off in 2019 when he was arguably the most dynamic offensive force on the White Sox.
Then everything came crashing down for the 25-year-old third baseman. In his final 171 plate appearances, Moncada mustered up a measly .192/.298/.349/.647 with just four home runs, 19 RBI, and an 81 wRC+.
We often saw Moncada coming up visibly hobbled from long-distance trips around the bases, and even saw Ricky Renteria tending to him in the dugout. It was clear that Moncada just lacked the stamina and legs as the season went on.
Compiled 2021 Projections
In both Dan Szymborski’s Zips model and FanGraphs’ Steamer model, a fully-healthy Yoan Moncada is expected to have a season much more reminiscent of his 2019 campaign.
Both projection models have Moncada posting 3.3 fWAR campaigns and playing nearly a full 162-game schedule with 609 and 662 plate appearances projected respectively.
Both projections have Moncada at 24 home runs and share a lot of similarities. Steamer has Moncada with more runs scored (86) than ZiPS (81), but Zips has Moncada nearly 10 points higher in the batting average department.
Both seem to have Moncada on pace for a potential All-Star season with an OPS+ of 114 and a wRC+ of 107 with just slightly different ways of getting there. Encouraging in both projections is a 28-28.5 percent strikeout rate, lower than his career rate of 31.3 percent.
ZiPS 2021 Projections
FanGraphs 2021 Projections (Steamer)
My Thoughts & Projections
I’m sure that some of these will feature contrasting thoughts when it comes to the ZiPS/Steamer projections versus my own, but this one is very similar since the FanGraphs models anticipate Moncada having a solid 2021 campaign.
I briefly touched on Moncada’s early success in 2020 before the fatigue effects of his bout with COVID-19 kicked-in and sent his production into a tailspin, and I believe that 2021 will look more like those numbers, and his 2019 numbers.
If Moncada continued on the pace of his first two weeks in 2020 throughout the entire season, Moncada would have ended up with 9-10 home runs extrapolated over a 60-game schedule, which would have been roughly 25 home runs in a 162-game season. That’s on pace with both his career-high of 25 home runs in 2019 and his projected 2021 home runs total in both referenced projection models from FanGraphs.
In 2019 Moncada had a breakout season slugging .548 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI on his way to a 5.6 fWAR campaign, and that was without the presence of guys like Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal in the lineup, and without Tim Anderson hitting in front of him in the lineup, something that we saw in 2020 and will likely see moving forward.
With Anderson likely the permanent leadoff hitter in 2021 like he was in 2020 and Moncada sandwiched between Anderson and Jose Abreu, it’ll be hard to avoid the strike zone when pitching to Moncada. If Moncada can get back to punishing opposing pitchers for throwing him fastballs, he’ll have a strong 2021.
Moncada posted a .395 wOBA against 985 fastballs seen in 2019, crushing 11 of his 25 home runs with an average exit velocity of 93.4 miles per hour.
In 2019 Moncada posted an average exit velocity of 93.1 miles per hour (top 2% of MLB) and a hard-hit rate of 47.9 percent (top 10% of MLB). In those first 13 games of the 2020 season, Moncada had an average exit velocity of 87 miles per hour and a hard-hit rate of 40 percent.
Healthy Yoan Moncada simply destroys baseballs, and with a stacked lineup around him and fresh legs under him in 2021, Moncada is primed to return to his trajectory that he ended the 2019 season on.
Previous 2021 Projections
Note: Here you’ll find previous entries in this series of 2021 projections. Today’s Yoán Moncada entry is the first of the series.