Chicago Cubs: The case for Yoan Moncada
While Baez has already realized so much of his potential, Moncada still has a lot of room to get better. While Baez just turned 27, Moncada is currently 24. When the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in 2016, Moncada was considered to be the key piece going the other way, and for good reason.
Moncada showed a tremendous amount of improvement in 2019. 2018 was a bit of a disappointment, as the third baseman posted just a .714 OPS and struck out a staggering 217 times to lead the league. But in 2019, Moncada showed a lot of potential as an overall hitter, getting his OPS all the way up to .915 while batting .315. He cut his strikeouts down by a lot as well, down to “only” 154.
In terms of BA, OBP, and SLG, Moncada was the better player in 2019: .315/.367/.548 for Moncada and .281/.316/.531 for Baez. Moncada also hit 25 home runs, not far behind Baez’s 29. If there’s an area of concern about Moncada’s approach at the plate, it’s that his walk total plummeted from 67 in 2018 to just 40 in 2019.
Baez has the clear edge as a defensive player, though it appears Moncada is settling in at third base after previously playing second. In terms of range factor per nine innings, Moncada was above league average at third base in 2019 after being below average at second in 2018. He still posted a negative defensive WAR at -0.3.
In terms of what these players will produce in 2020 and beyond, it appears that Moncada may have more upside as a hitter but that Baez is the better defender by a long shot. If you had to start a team and could have only one of these two players for the next five years, who would you choose? Fans may have a strong opinion one way or another, but it’s hard to go wrong with either one.