Six years ago, a young shortstop became the first player in MLB history to make their big league debut during a World Series game. That player was (Raul) Adalberto Mondesi. Since then, he’s been a pretty inconsistent player. One minute it seems like he should be benched, and the next moment he looks like an MVP candidate. He’s the kind of player you watch and never really know what you’re gonna get. That being said, 2021 seems like the perfect year for him to breakout.
Why is 2021 the perfect year? Although he has been in the league for roughly 5 years, Mondesi is only 25 years old–the same age as fellow Kansas City star, Patrick Mahomes. With Bobby Witt Jr. (the Royals No. 1 prospect) coming up from the minors, Mondesi is under a lot of pressure and a high chance of being replaced. There is also the fact that the Royals are becoming a competitive team, they have a chance at making the 2021 playoffs, which is only possible if Mondesi plays on an elite level.
In 2016-2019, Mondesi played just 249 games and hit .249/.286/.415 with a 3.6 WAR. While these aren’t terrible stats, they are in no way good stats. In 2019, he hurt his shoulder, resulting in surgery. This may factor to his slump at the beginning of the 2020 season. In his first 136 at-bats, he slashed at .182/.206/.235 striking out 31.6% of the time and a walk percentage of 2.2 (not to mention he had a 14 wRC). He was the second least valuable player among qualified with a shocking -0.5 WAR. However, there seemed to be a spark: Mondesi was playing like a star. In the last 23 games of 2020, Mondesi hit .368/.421/.690, was the most valuable player in baseball, and stole 16 bases. For comparison, that pace equates to roughly 112 steals over a full 162 games season. It is impressive to say the least.
Adalberto Mondesi is the perfect combination of power and speed. We have all seen him run, but what some people don’t see is his ability to smash a baseball. For example when he hit a 109 mph 458 foot home run. Mondesi has immense raw talent, but his swing and miss percentage is the leading factor as to why he is not a star. According to Baseball Savant, Mondesi has a swing percentage of 55.3% (46.6% league average) and a 36.4% chase percentage (28.2% league average).
In conclusion, there is a solid chance that Mondesi has a breakout year. He’s going into spring training healthy with the momentum from last season. If he can gain more plate discipline, then be on the look out for an All-Star season.