Inconsistent yet resilient Moncada heating up at end
Yoan Moncada hasn’t played in a World Series but he believes he knows what it will feel like when he does.
It will be like this weekend’s White Sox series against the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field, with a chill in the air and stands packed with frenzied fans.
“I think this is the closest thing you can get to a World Series game from a regular-season game,” Moncada said Saturday. “It’s a real nice feeling. I can feel it.”
Optimism is one of Moncada’s great traits. The 23-year-old Cuban is a strong believer in what he and the Sox are doing, and a strong finish to his first full season in the major leagues is rewarding his faith.
Moncada was hitless in Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the Cubs after going 3-for-4 in the White Sox’s victory on Friday. He has nine hits in his last 21 at-bats and is hitting .310 in his last 26 games. He’s looking exactly like the guy the Sox expected to get from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade.
“I credit that success the last couple of weeks to work I’ve done all season,” Moncada said through Sox interpreter Billy Russo. “When you work harder, sooner or later the results are going to be there. That’s the key.”
Moncada is far from a complete package, of course.
“As you know, I’m always looking for more ways for him to improve,” countryman Jose Abreu said. “He has plenty of room to improve and get better, to develop.”
Moncada leads the majors with 207 strikeouts, on pace for 219, only four short of Mark Reynolds’ major-league record. His OPS is down from .750 a year ago, which looked like the starting point for a great career.
Moncada went through a horrible stretch in the middle of the season. He hit .197 with 118 strikeouts in a 76-game stretch from May 27 through Aug. 23 before a mechanical adjustment that hitting coach Todd Steverson suggested clicked for him.
Moncada is holding his hands higher, which Steverson believes puts his swing on a better plane.
“That’s a part of the solution,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The rest of it continues to be approach and understanding the opposition and staying within yourself.”
Renteria never stopped writing Moncada’s name on the lineup card when he was struggling. It was easier to keep playing Moncada, he has said, because the second baseman never seemed to get down on himself.
“This is my first whole year in the majors,” Moncada said. “I learned a lot. I think if I keep applying the things I learn every day I can improve and I can be a very good player. I’m pretty confident I can be that baseball player that everybody thought I can be, and the great baseball player I know I can be.”
In an up-and-down season, White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada is finishing on a strong note.