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Grading the White Sox: Yoán Moncada

The most polarizing player is more than his numbers

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Yoán Moncada: At this point, the unknowing might be all we have.
David Berding/Getty Images

At midseason, the SSS staff graded the 46-46 White Sox, from the head of the class Dylan Cease down to Dallas Keuchel. We invented a WARsss metric that could very well be just a cute way to trot out our special site grades — but really for all you know could be the product of years of research in a stats lab.

Our expanded report card will take us through everyone who saw time in uniform for the White Sox, plus some front-office types. Most of our writers will take on a couple of players, with final grades and short writeups, running through the end of November. Enjoy!

Yoán Moncada
Third Baseman
Midseason: -0.2 WARsss
Final: 0.92 WARsss

On Dec 16, 2016, I got a text from a friend that just said “Moncada!” My friend is a Cubs fan, which I think demonstrates my essential catholicism, but at the moment just curdled into bitterness. Of course the Cubs got Moncada. Why wouldn’t the World Series champs get the most touted, most exciting prospect in baseball?

But it turned out he was happy for me! This was a guy who the Sox never get. We never have the big name. We never have the guy every fan base is drooling over. We never have the guy who seems like he would make an impact for years to come. The rebuild was beginning to come together. The Sox — the White Sox! — actually got the guy.

And now, six years later, we have to ask ourselves: What did we get? What do we have?

Yoán Moncada has now played part or all of six seasons, and he has been, to put it mildly, inconsistent. Here in 2022, he might have been the epitome of the season: Sometimes exciting, but most of the time plodding and frustrating, seemingly on the cusp many times, but eventually fading for weeks at a time. Often injured.

He had a WAR of 1.0, which isn’t … bad. It’s not technically bad. It’s just not good. It’s barely mediocre. And it’s not what we need from a cornerstone of the rebuild.

A lot of his numbers are very bad. It’s clear that the promise of 30 homers/40 doubles, which I thought we could pencil in, will not happen, but 12 dingers is sad (though par for the course for the Sox this year). Eighteen doubles is extremely weak. And a 76 OPS+ is not just sad, but a full 40 points lower than an excellent 2021 season (more on that later).

So with a terrible OPS+, how does he have a replacement-level WAR? Defense. Moncada was frequently spectacular, and always solid. I am not particularly skilled at reading defensive stats, but it was clear from watching him that he is the Sox most solid hot cornerman since Joe Crede — maybe Robin Ventura.

Not to put too fine a point on it — and this is relevant — he truly puts the “hot” in “hot corner.” Moncada is a clearly beautiful human being, and he has fun. He sings. He dances. And he seems to enjoy things outside of baseball. And that leads to him being maybe the most polarizing person on the White Sox.

He is seen by some fans as lazy. He is accused of not caring, of not putting in the effort, of just breezing his way out there while thinking about his next techno-salsa or whatever-the-heck. To say that there is a racial component to this is to engage in NPRish euphemism. Moncada is the fulcrum of ire for every fan who pretends that players cared more in the good ol’ days (defined as your own youth to about five years ago, you know, old school).

To pretend that Moncada doesn’t care is on its face absurd. He has dedicated his life to baseball. He puts in the hours, and you can see on his face that failure pains him more than success excites him. He gets frustrated, but I would imagine you could say the same of every beef-eater steaming because they’ve been put on hold on whatever shouting radio show into which they’re calling to jaw.

This makes Moncada a perfect synecdoche for the modern sports experience. Every at-bat is more than the at-bat, it is viewed through the Filter of Discourse. When he laces a homer with that beautiful swing of his, supporters sarcastically ask, “Wait, isn’t he supposed to be bad?” When he pops up, detractors joyfully scream, “bust!” When he doesn’t run out a grounder to second, racists grabble out of their ruts, salivating greenly and feeling justified in their pinched and pointless and ever-present worldview.

He’s also the perfect symbol of the White Sox, full of high promise but a bit obtuse. I love him, but he’s frustrating. A great year is followed, with metronomic predictability, by a bad one. This could lead you to think that 2023 he — and the Sox, newly-managed and flushed out like the Augean stables — will be back. Or you could agree with baseball-knowers that a “one year good, one year bad” is less a stable and repeatable pattern and more just “one of those things.”

That’s the thing with Yoán Moncada. All these years in, we still just don’t know. At some point, and we may have already passed that, the unknowing might be all we have.

2022 White Sox Grades

Yoán Moncada, 3B, 0.92
Lenyn Sosa, SS, 0.85
José Ruiz, RHRP, 0.83
Mark Payton, OF, 0.6
Carlos Pérez, C, 0.399
Lucas Giolito, RHSP, 0.392
Adam Engel, OF, 0.237
Vince Velasquez, RHP, -0.4
Reese McGuire, C, -1.1
Kyle Crick, RHRP, -1.65
Joe Kelly, RHRP, -1.75
Daryl Boston, 1B Coach, -2.0
Anderson Severino, LHRP, -2.2
Jerry Reinsdorf, OWN, -2.321
Jake Diekman, LHRP, -2.366
Rick Hahn, GM, -2.401
Bennett Sousa, LHRP, -2.425
Frank Menechino, BAT COACH, -2.469
Yasmani Grandal, C/DH, -2.549
Leury García, UTIL, -2.7
Adam Haseley, OF, -3.146
Joe McEwing, 3B Coach, -3.167
Ryan Burr, RHRP, -3.4
Tony La Russa, MGR, -3.5
Dallas Keuchel, LHSP, -3.9


Yoán earned essentially a replacement-level grade from us. Fair?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Too harsh, his defense and pop stardom alone make him worthy of more acclaim.
    (4 votes)
  • 48%
    Too easy, Moncada is everything that’s wrong with the White Sox.
    (55 votes)
  • 48%
    Sounds about right, he’s been a great player for the White Sox but needs to step it back up.
    (55 votes)
114 votes total Vote Now