Fantasy Outlook: Will Yoan Moncada Be A Viable Option In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Thursday night was the type of game everyone expects from Yoan Moncada, as he played hero not once but twice:

  • Game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Ken Giles
  • Walk-off RBI single in the eleventh inning

He finished the impressive day going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, though it still left him hitting a mere .213 with 2 HR and 9 RBI over his first 77 PA in the Majors in 2017.  There are two glaring areas of concern, both of which carry over from his brief time with the Red Sox in 2016:

  1. Strikeouts – 31.2%
  2. Groundballs – 59.5%

Moncada has reduced his swinging strike rate from last season, though his 13.1% is hardly an impressive mark.  The improvement has come against “hard” pitches, as he continues to swing and miss at breaking balls and offspeed pitches at an alarming rate:

Year
Hard
Breaking
Offspeed
201612.50%24.00%28.57%
20175.62%26.67%31.37%

You can argue small sample sizes, though having posted a 12.6% SwStr% at Triple-A prior to his recall it’s a tough sell.  That part of his game is going to remain, and it could ultimately cripple him at the Major League level.  While he isn’t chasing outside the strike zone a lot (25.6% O-Swing%), which has helped him continue to get on base via the walk, that’s not enough.  If he can’t adjust and make consistent contact against breaking balls and offspeed pitches he’s simply going to see a steady diet of them, and the results will be ugly.

As it is, even in his short time in the Majors this season he’s started to see fewer fastballs (64.65% in June, 54.95% in July) and more breaking balls (18.18% to 26.37%).  They are small samples, but it’s a trend we expect to continue.

In the scheme of things, given his speed, the groundball rate isn’t a bad thing.  You would think that he could put the ball on the ground and use his speed to pile up the hits (of course that’s when he is actually able to make contact).  The problem is that this type of inflated rate significantly caps his power potential.

There’s a good chance that he can reverse the mark, after posting a 36.8% groundball rate and 36.8% fly ball rate during his time at Triple-A.  As it is it’s not a major negative, but it’s one to watch as the season progresses.

At the end of the day Moncada’s success is going to come down to his improvement in making contact against breaking balls and offspeed pitches.  If he can do that, he’ll be able to tap into his power and utilize his speed to put up strong numbers.  If he can’t?  We’re going to continue along the same path, with a sub-.250 average with a little bit of power and speed (think 6-9 HR).

Given the track record we’d expect more of what we’ve seen, at least in ’17, so don’t expect him to be the savior for your fantasy squad.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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