by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we posted our Top 15 second baseman rankings for standard leagues (which utilizes average), it may have surprised some that Yoan Moncada was ranked #12 (click here to view). No one is going to question the power/speed that he brings to the table, but he continues to struggle making consistent contact (32.0% strikeout rate in the Majors in ’17). The problem isn’t against fastballs but against everything else (Whiff%):
- Hard – 7.68%
- Breaking Balls – 19.27%
- Offspeed – 27.01%
If he can’t make contact against any pitch but fastballs, why would opposing pitchers throw him anything hard? That’s going to make it nearly impossible to hit for a strong average, regardless of the other skills, but what happens when we change the script? What happens when we move to leagues that utilize OBP instead of AVG?
Moncada’s value increases significantly in that regard, because while he does swing and miss a lot he also stays within the strike zone:
- Whiff% – 12.6%
- O-Swing% – 26.8%
That allowed him to post a 12.6% walk rate in ’17 (231 PA), which resembles the 13.6% walk rate he had posted at Triple-A prior to being recalled (309 PA). While the limited average still suppressed his OBP (which was at .338), it’s easy to see the upside. Any improvement in his strikeout rate or his BABIP (.325, though he has the speed to carry an elevated mark) could lead to a monster OBP.
Is he going to be among the league leaders? With the limited upside in his average it’s hard to imagine him reaching .370 or better, which five eligible players did at 2B last season. However is .340 a stretch? There were only ten second base eligible players who got there in ’17, and among them were Cesar Hernandez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Joe Panik.
While there’s risk in his power/speed, if he can’t adjust to non-fastballs (6 of his 8 HR in the Majors came on fastball variations), it’s easy to see a 20/20 floor (and he has 30/30 potential). With the ability to draw a significant number of walks, helping him maintain a strong OBP compared to the rest of the players at his position, we are suddenly looking at a strong option.
Obviously he’s not going to be in the same class as Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez and the other elite, but what happens when they come off the board? Moncada is just as attractive as what’s left, and while he falls just outside the Top 5 (he ranks #6 in our Top 15 2B rankings for OBP formats) it’s obvious how good of an option he is. While we’d be skeptical in “standard” formats, in OBP formats he’s well worth targeting.
Sources – Fangraphs, OBP
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