The 2023 season was obviously a disastrous one for the Los Angeles Angels. The team expected to win, doubled down at the deadline, only to collapse and finish with a lousy record of 73-89. While the season was an unmitigated disaster, the Angels did have several bright spots. One of which was the play of Mickey Moniak.
The former Phillies outfielder opened some eyes with an impressive Spring Training performance. Despite his best efforts, Moniak did not crack the Opening Day roster as Brett Phillips secured the fourth outfielder role. After a hot start in the minors, Moniak gave the Angels no choice but to give him a look in the majors in May, and after coming up he refused to let them send him down.
Moniak had an impressive season with the Angels, earning a starting role and running with it. He displayed some impressive power and speed to go along with solid defense in all three outfield positions. While Moniak showed some flashes of the player who was once picked first overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, he's far from a finished product.
Moniak's deficiencies at the plate were glaring, and something new Angels hitting coach Johnny Washington is going to have to help with.
New LA Angels hitting coach Johnny Washington must make Mickey Moniak a more well-rounded hitter
Moniak's numbers were solid, as he slashed .280/.307/.495 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI. His .802 OPS was one of the better marks on the Angels, and his 113 OPS+ was impressive as well. That stat line, while solid, does not hide his shortcomings, however.
Moniak appeared in 85 games and took 323 at-bats. In those at-bats, he struck out 113 times compared to just nine walks drawn. Yes, Moniak fanned 35% of his plate appearances while walking just 2.8% of the time. Moniak's knowledge of the strike zone was subpar at best, and must be improved. The issues only appeared to be more glaring as the season progressed.
Another glaring hole in his game is his production against left-handed pitching. While this did improve as the season progressed, Moniak had a .548 OPS against southpaws this past season. He has a .430 OPS in 91 plate appearances against them in his MLB career. For reference, Andrew Velazquez had a .548 OPS this past season and felt like an automatic out.
Moniak could easily be a platoon player, but the Angels won't want to concede that just yet with a player who is just 25 years old. For him to ever be considered an everyday player he's going to have to get much more comfortable against left-handed pitching.
Chances are, Moniak won't have a .390 BAbip again in 2024. He won't overperform to the level he did in 2023. Improvements are going to have to be made.
The tools are there for this guy to be a productive MLB player. When he does make contact he hits the ball hard, he just has to do it more often. When he swings at strikes he often does damage, but his constant chasing forces pitchers to work outside of the zone more often against him. He has the speed and defense that can help make him a star player if he can fix his deficiencies offensively. It won't be easy, but it'd benefit the Angels (and Moniak) greatly if their new hitting coach can help improve some of these weaknesses.