ARLINGTON, Texas — Hitting coach Todd Steverson has a simple answer for how White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada went from there to here this season.
‘‘He’s a really good player,’’ Steverson said before the Sox’ 6-5 loss Saturday to the Rangers.
Oh, it’s that simple? Perhaps.
Moncada wasn’t a bad player last season. He was the Sox’ fourth-best player in his first full major-league season at age 23, according to Baseball Reference.com’s wins above replacement. He hit .235/.315/.400 with 17 home runs, 32 doubles and 61 RBI. Those are nice numbers.
But his 217 strikeouts — the fourth-highest total for a major-league player in a single season — dominated the discussion.
‘‘I said it last year: If you want to jump off this wagon, go ahead,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘But this boy can play.’’
Steverson stayed on board with Moncada, who was listed above right-hander Michael Kopech in the Sox’ prospect haul in the trade for Chris Sale in December 2016.
‘‘It’s easy to make rash judgments on somebody off what you’re seeing,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘What you saw was real at the time, but that doesn’t mean that’s who he is.’’
Moncada’s 28 percent strikeout rate is down from 33.4 percent last season. And with a .297/.349/.516 hitting line and 12 homers, 16 doubles and 40 RBI, the strikeout conversation is getting muted.
Moncada singled and scored on a three-run double by Tim Anderson in the Sox’ four-run first inning Saturday against Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn, whose run of eight consecutive quality starts came to an end.
After Sox journeyman right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne gave the lead back in three innings, Anderson put the Sox in front with a home run in the sixth. But the Rangers scored twice in the bottom of the inning against Evan Marshall to claim the victory.
Marshall’s 0.00 ERA went up in flames when he allowed five consecutive batters to reach base in the sixth, and the Sox fell to 36-38.
‘‘Just one of those days where it was a command thing,’’ Marshall said. “But you tip your cap. They were on me tonight. Start a new streak tomorrow.’’
It was an entertaining game, with the Rangers making six excellent plays in the field, Sox second baseman Yolmer Sanchez throwing out runners at third and home on relays and Sox center fielder Leury Garcia throwing one out at home for his major-league-best ninth assist.
Sox prospect Zack Collins, who was catching his first game, made two tough tag plays at the plate. He also went 0-for-4 and grounded out against Chris Martin with Anderson on third to end the game.
In what might have been his last start for the Sox, Despaigne was far from entertaining. He couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead, allowing a two-run homer to Nomar Mazara in the Rangers’ three-run first, then a tying solo shot in the third.
Despaigne lasted three-plus innings in his third start. He allowed eight hits and a walk and struck out none as his ERA rose to 9.45.
‘‘As far as we’re concerned, Despaigne’s here till he’s not,’’ Sox manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘Until we find a different option or we decide we need an option. Right now, we’ll send him out there and allow him to do his job.’’
Moncada’s future, however, is not in doubt.
‘‘He knows himself a little better, and there is still a tremendous amount of room to grow, which is kind of scary,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘He can be one of the most dangerous left-handed hitters in the game.’’
‘‘I’ve learned a lot,’’ Moncada said. ‘‘At this level, you need to make adjustments quickly because every day counts, even in a long season. You don’t want to waste time.’’