Sunday, June 16, 2024

Yoan Moncada’s White Sox Career May Be Over After Latest Injury Setback

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On Tuesday, fans helplessly watched as Yoan Moncada collapsed to the ground on a non-contact injury while running to first base. Moncada was in visible pain and needed assistance getting off the field. The team announced he had suffered a left abductor strain. He is expected to miss 3-6 months. 

Moncada on the ground writhing in pain is an unpleasant but familiar sight for White Sox fans. Over the years he has earned a reputation for being soft. Since Luis Robert Jr.’s debut in 2020 the trio of Eloy Jimenez and Moncada have played in just 158 of 546 games together entering the 2024 season. However, in the last four seasons, Moncada has played in nearly 72 percent  (392 out of 546) of those games. In many of those games, he has been playing through some sort of ailment which has hampered his overall production. 

Before he went down with an injury Pedro Grifol admitted that Moncada had been nursing a nagging hip injury. But the White Sox third baseman was doing his best to stay on the field and help a depleted White Sox lineup.  Even with the hip issue Moncada still tried to hustle out of the box and leg out an infield single which ultimately caused him to go down. 

Before the injury, he was one of the few bright spots in the White Sox lineup, hitting .282 with a .774 OPS. You have to feel for Moncada. He may be injury-prone but also has a pattern of trying to play through pain, something that is affecting his overall numbers. This latest injury may be the final blow to his White Sox career. He has a club option worth $25 million next year. It is hard to see the White Sox picking that option up. It is also fair to wonder if many teams will be interested in an injury-prone third baseman who has failed to live up to the top prospect in baseball billing placed upon him when the White Sox first traded for him. 

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Adding to the frustration, Moncada has been genuinely trying to stay on the field. Last season Moncada was a World Baseball Classic standout for Team Cuba. The 28-year-old switch hitter was named an all-tournament selection. He followed that up by opening the MLB season 12-for-30 at the plate before some lingering back issues began to rear its ugly head. On April 9th he was pulled from the lineup against the Pirates and did not return until May 12th. When he returned it he was still not 100 percent and his numbers took a nose dive. 

Moncada carried a .857 OPS in April before landing on the IL. After returning from his first IL stint he struggled to keep his batting average above .200 and his power deteriorated. Across May, June, and July he hit just one home run all while his walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up. After another back flare-up, Moncada went back to the IL on June 14th and did not return to action until July 24th.

When he was struggling with the back flare-ups, he was making a noticeable attempt to hit everything to the opposite field because that meant less rotation and strain on his back. But he still wanted to try and play every day which is why Pedro Grifol felt the need to protect him against left-handed pitching. When he returned at the beginning of August it was clear that his back was feeling better. In the final month of the season, he hit .298/.344/.560. 

Last season was nothing new. Moncada has shown he can be an All-Star caliber player when he is fully healthy. In 2019 he hit a career-high 25 home runs and drove in 79 RBIs while hitting .315 with a .915 OPS. Unfortunately, that season is now an outlier because instances where he has been fully healthy have been few and far between.

The following season he struggled with the aftereffects of COVID-19. He played in 52 of the 60 regular season games. During a game in Cleveland, he was seen in the dugout having trouble catching his breath after running the bases. His offensive production also took a noticeable dip from the year before. 

In 2022 he missed time with a right oblique strain, strained right hamstring, and later a strained left hamstring. He still managed to play 104 games but his power numbers were down for a second straight season. Not having his lower body at full strength played a factor. 

The sad truth is Moncada has been snake-bitten while wearing a White Sox uniform. There are plenty of valid criticisms of Moncada over the years such as poor body language, but being soft shouldn’t be one of them. His latest injury was the product of him trying to play through pain and his body failed him like it has so many times before. He will leave the Southside with a legacy of unfulfilled potential.

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Tcloud
Tcloud
Apr 11, 2024 9:31 am

I’ve watched Moncada turn doubles into singles since he’s been here.
Maybe it’s mean but getting hurt running to first, been awhile since he has done that.

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