2020 Projection: Is Yoan Moncada Worth An Early Round Pick? Probably Not…

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We’ve all heard the hype surrounding Yoan Moncada, though the results on the field had never quite matched it. That all changed in 2019, when you can argue that he not only lived up to expectations but surpassed them as he delivered a monster campaign:

511 At Bats
.315 Batting Average (161 Hits)
25 Home Runs
79 RBI
83 Runs
10 Stolen Bases
.367 On Base Percentage
.548 Slugging Percentage
.406 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Now fantasy owners face the tough decision on figuring out how to value him. It would appear that he’s one of the elite players and should rank among the Top 10 at a deep third base spot. However there’s one significant red flag and that’s in his average. There are a few key metrics that can’t be ignored:

  • BABIP – .406
  • SwStr% – 13.9%
  • O-Swing% – 32.7%

Regardless of his speed and how hard he hits the ball (39.9% Hard%), maintaining a BABIP anything close to that level is unrealistic. That alone looms large, but he also regressed in his approach overall yet improved his strikeout rate (33.4% in ’18 to 27.5% in ’19). That doesn’t make much sense, especially as he started to see fewer hard pitches and struggled to make contact against other types of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 9.76%
  • Breaking – 23.71%
  • Offspeed – 16.24%

An increased strikeout rate coupled with the drop in luck could lead to an average much closer to .260 as opposed to .300+. Even if he were to maintain the power and speed, a .260/25/10 third baseman has value but is he one of the elite?

Everything comes together for the following projection for 2020:

.262 (144-550), 27 HR, 80 RBI, 85 R, 12 SB, .338 BABIP, .331 OBP, .489 SLG

Just compare that to someone like Yulieski Gurriel, who also enters the year with 3B eligibility, who hit .298 with 31 HR and 98 RBI last year. Who would you rather have, if Gurriel is expected to put up numbers close to .290/30 again? We wouldn’t argue with someone who said they preferred Moncada’s upside, but for one year it’s not such an obvious decision.

Could he post a little bit better of a BABIP, leading to a better average? It’s possible, but considering the depth at the position (Gurriel has an average ADP of 127.37, compared to 66.08 for Moncada) it isn’t worth the gamble.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
Catchers02/10/20
First Basemen02/13/20
Second Basemen02/18/20
Third Basemen02/21/20
Shortstops02/24/20
Outfielders03/06/20
Starting Pitchers03/09/20
Relief Pitchers03/03/20

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yuli hit 13 HRs on 573 PA in 2018 and 18 HRs on 564 PA in 2017. His 31 HRs looks like an outlier to me. Or maybe it’s a product of his increasingly sing for the fences pull approach. 41.2% Pull in 2018, 45.2% in 2019.

    He might not strike out a lot but Yuli’s IFFB% has been north of 12.5% the last 3 years and ballooned to 13.6% last year. Those are almost as automatic an out as a K. It’s also indicative of someone who is making poor contact. Compare that to Moncada who’s IFFB% was 6.9% in 2018 and 5.6% in 2019 and you have your answer as to why his BABIP was so high. When he does make contact, he’s not getting under the ball.

    Yuli also had an O-Swg of 35.4% and 37.1% over the last two years. If you are going to hold a 32.7% O-Swg against Moncada then you should apply it to Yuli as well.

    Yuli is going to turn 36 during the season and has the look of a guy who is losing his bat speed and trying to make up for it with a pull heavy approach. We also don’t know how much he benefited from the Astros scandal. You made the point that Yuli is a better value at his ADP but you ranked him above Moncada on your 3B ranking which doesn’t compute to me.

    • Agreed on the scandal, and that may need to be adjusted for, but Gurriel added 40 doubles and 2 triples and his 15.6% HR/FB was reasonable. Even if you believe the first half, he had 14 HR so it appears clear that something clicked in regards to his power.

      I have no issue with everyone putting Moncada ahead of Gurriel, I could put a different example there though just to reinforce that Moncada at his current ADP isn’t a pick I’d make

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