I know. It's only spring training.
Not only is it only spring training, it's only been two spring training games.
But while the sample size is admittedly microscopically small, Yoan Moncada is off to a nice start in Cactus League play after struggling mightily at the plate during his first full season in the bigs in 2018.
Moncada started his spring game action with two hits, including a double, Saturday against the Oakland Athletics. Monday, he banged out another couple of hits, including a triple, against the San Francisco Giants. He drove in a run and scored a run in each game.
How about an RBI triple by Yoan Moncada, scoring Eloy Jimenez who singled and stole a base. pic.twitter.com/vnoj6rIWUR— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) February 25, 2019
We can conclude he feasts against teams from the Bay Area. (Hey, there's actually some truth to that: He slashed .290/.353/.645 with three homers and 13 RBIs in seven games against the A's last season.)
But seriously, this is what the White Sox are hoping to see. Obviously they would like just plain improvement after Moncada struck out 217 times last season (one of the highest single-season strikeout totals in baseball history) and slashed just .235/.315/.400.
But they also see potential offensive improvement as a result of the position switch they're undertaking this spring, moving Moncada from second base to third base. It might seem those two things wouldn't be connected, but Rick Renteria has said multiple times during the first few weeks of spring training that the increased focus Moncada needs to master the hot corner could lead to increased focus in the other facet of his game, leading to better results at the dish.
"We’re hoping, honestly, that some of the focus that he’s got to take into re-acclimating himself to playing third base will be also part of expanding his offensive capabilities," Renteria said. "And by the way, if you look at — and I know this is going to sound crazy — if you look at the metrics of his hitting, there was a lot of good things in his offensive game last year. I know we focus on the strikeouts and things of that nature, but there were a lot of good things that went on with his ability to have a good eye, balls in play, his batting average was off the charts.
"So there are a lot of things that will continue to improve with him. And I think he will continue to understand, without getting himself outside of that zone that he understands so very well, there’s situations that he will continue to embrace and understand when to manage certain at-bats in different ways. Those are the things that he’s going to gain from experience and knowledge, and I think that last year’s season definitely has served him very, very well in terms of making his adjustments this coming season."
Whether four hits in two spring training games are a positive result from the move to third, a result of Moncada's much-discussed offseason work or just four hits in two meaningless spring training games, it's a good thing to see.
Time will tell if it carries over into the season and into the summer.