Mickey Moniak's great season came with some concerns
Mickey Moniak was a bright light in a dark season for the Angels. He had struggled in all of the other chances he got in the majors but earned a shot in 2023 after a phenominal spring and start to his minor league season. He was only expected to be up for a brief period, but didn't let the Angels send him back down after how well he was playing.
Overall, Moniak's numbers looked fantastic. He slashed .280/.307/.495 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI. He showed off some great speed and strong defense making him an absolute lock to be in the lineup regularly in 2024. While Moniak's season was great, there were some concerns that came along with it.
First, he simply hasn't solved left-handed pitching. He had just 14 hits in 63 at-bats against southpaws this season and has 15 hits in 87 at-bats against them in his career. He did finish strong against lefties and even hit a home run against a southpaw late in the season, but whether he can be trusted to hit lefties remains to be seen.
Second, the strikeouts were out of control and only got worse as the season progressed. Moniak fanned 113 times in 311 at-bats this season. He struck out in 35% of his plate appearances. Strikeouts have always been a part of his game and isn't normally something to freak out about, but 35% is way too high.
In addition to the strikeouts, Moniak rarely walked. He drew a total of nine walks in 323 plate appearances this season. For reference, Andrew Velazquez walked 10 times in 94 plate appearances. Yes, the light-hitting Velazquez drew one more walk in 230 fewer plate appearances than Moniak.
Lastly, Moniak had a .397 BAbip in 2023. Part of that has to do with him hitting the ball hard, but there is definitely a lot of luck involved with that high of a BAbip. The league average is around .300. With regression in that category will come regression in Moniak's batting average. If he doesn't start walking more, there will be issues.
Can these things be improved on? Absolutely. He just hasn't given much of a reason for fans to believe they will. In the second half, Moniak was pitched to a bit differently with pitchers getting more film on him and he had a .670 OPS in 47 games. He struck out 70 times in 187 plate appearances, fanning roughly 37.5% of the time. That's an increase from his season total. I love Moniak, and think he absolutely has to be in the lineup every game against a righty. To deny that there are some concerns would be foolish.