Few players on the White Sox roster are more talented than Yoan Moncada. Unfortunately, few are also more frustrating to watch on a nightly basis.
In the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Guardians, Moncada ensured the momentum stayed in the visitor’s dugout with a lackadaisical effort at third base. Moncada allowed Amed Rosario to reach first base on what should have been a routine groundout. Rosario showed urgency. Moncada did not.
That opened the floodgates for Moncada. Three batters later, he bounced a throw to Jose Abreu with the bases loaded. It could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, an unearned run trotted home.
The Guardians continued to test Moncada on the next pitch. Andres Gimenez hit a rocket of a ground ball towards the hot corner. It was a play that Moncada would typically make, but it skipped off his glove, allowing yet another run to score.
The White Sox are asleep pic.twitter.com/Is9tNCUvQk
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) September 22, 2022
Moncada then almost collided with Andrew Vaughn in the third inning while chasing a pop fly in shallow left field. The incident caused Vaughn to drop the popup.
To his credit, he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, but by then, the game was out of reach.
This sequence of plays was a microcosm of Moncada as a player. When the going gets rough, he gets frustrated. His demeanor is an excellent reflection of the 2022 White Sox. Unquestioned talent, high expectations, inconsistent, at times unlikeable and ultimately disappointing.
He constantly looks like he is moping around in the dugout, and there have been times this season when it seems like he takes plays off. On Tuesday, he could be seen staring down at his feet during extra innings, already signaling defeat.
That’s not to say that he is lazy. We can’t see the work he is putting in off the field. But he gives up very quickly. If he boots a ground ball, he dwells on it instead of moving on to the next play. If he chops a ground ball into the dirt, he jogs to first base pissed at himself instead of forgetting about it for a moment and gunning it down the line.
After his breakout 2019 campaign in which he hit .315 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs, he has failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.
There was a built-in excuse with COVID-19, which undoubtedly affected his poor play. Moncada never looked like himself. He bounced back in 2021, posting very productive numbers. The 26-year-old had a career-high in walks with 84, and despite a dip in power (14 home runs), he made up for it with a .375 on-base percentage and solid defense at third base. It looked like he was trending in the right direction and building back up to the star that everyone envisioned him to be.
It was so disheartening to see him fall off a cliff in 2022. He was not just bad but frustrating to fans and coaches alike. Every player goes through rough patches. However, Moncada compounded matters with foul body language that signals to everyone that he doesn’t care.
Shane Bieber, Dirty 82mph Knuckle Curve. 😨 pic.twitter.com/CI72tiQYs0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2022
James Fegan of The Athletic noted that coaches who get frustrated with Moncada are quick to say that he is too talented to ever be a bad player, adding, “If you fill a roster full of grindy guys making the most of their talents, often their career years will struggle to match even Moncada’s 2021 production.”
Fegan brings up an interesting point. Imagine if Moncada maximized his talents. Instead, the White Sox are left with the reality that they will be paying $17 million next season to a player that is batting under .220. If the White Sox want to try and salvage this thing, it starts with addressing his body language.
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