Well that was anticlimactic.
After months of wondering just where Yoenis Cespedes would land, he finally decided on returning to Queens after all. Now that Mets fan can rejoice, the Metropolitans look poised to make another deep October run.
Even though the Mets are loaded with aces, it is hard not to place their success last season on the shoulders of what Cespedes was able to do offensively once acquired at the trade deadline. He basically looked like Babe Ruth reincarnated from July on, bashing at least eight homers in each of the last three months of the season, while driving in no less than 19 RBI, and batting no lower than .275 over in that span as well.
All in all, he finished the year with a, .287/35 HR/105 RBI/7 SB/.870 OPS/101 R, line. Easily the best of his career and really gave us a glimpse into why he was so hyped when he came over in 2012. The dynamic of the Mets lineup completely changes as well with him anchoring the middle of lineup with Curtis Granderson and David Wright in front of him. And then probably be followed by Lucas Duda and Michael Conforto which offers a boost to his counting stats.
The question fantasy wise, is can Cespedes somehow manage to post a line similar to what he did last season. In my opinion, and to the delight of Mets’ fans, is that what he did last season seems to be somewhat repeatable based on his batted ball data. The only question, like in the case of all players, is can he stay consistent all season?
Consistency has really been the bugaboo with Cespedes during his career. He, like Justin Upton, show at times that they single-handedly carry a team but also become huge liability as well when they get cold. In order to amass the huge offensive line that he was able to post last season, he has to show consistent production for nearly all seven months of the season.
Last season was the first time in his career that he did not have lower than a .250 AVG in any single month. The lowest he posted last season was .273 in May, but like for most of his career, he was still able to maintain his power. Fantasy owners need to expect regression, but it will just be a matter of how much may occur.
Drafters should not look too Cespedes for AVG help, he is a .271 career hitter, but all he has to do is flirt with his 2015 numbers to keep his value. His BABIP was .323 last season, nothing too fluky, but it was better than his .304 career mark. Therefore, even if his BABIP drops back near .300, you still have a .270+ hitter.
Cespedes’ upside comes from his power potential. While 35 bombs seems to be certainly his ceiling, he should be able to stay close to 30 based on his batted ball data being last season being similar to what he has done over his career.
Compared to his .260/22 HR/100 RBI/.751 OPS 2014 season, Cespedes showed no real outlying stats that would lead one to think last season was a complete fluke. His LD rate did climb by two percent last season, but his GB rate actually rose nearly eight percent and his FB rate dropped 10 percent. Point being, he managed to set a career high in homers even though his numbers indicate that he should have regressed.
The key to his success last season was that the force in which he was hitting rose just enough to offset the other ratios taking a hit. Since 2013, he has steadily made medium contact rate at over 50 percent. The change came last season in both his soft and hard contact rates. He dropped his soft rate by four percent and subsequently raised his hard rate by nearly five percent
So if you subscribe to the theory that he cannot repeat those same contact rates, keep in mind that he is GB rate and FB rate are due to readjust closer to his career norms, which should reassure some skeptics that Cespedes is able to produce close to what he did last season.
Even though he has shown the propensity to battle nagging injuries, he has played in no less than 129 games his whole career, and has played more than 150 games the last two seasons. He has even been able to post at least 100 RBI the past two seasons on some teams where he did not have a huge offensive supporting cast.
His strikeout rate did rise to nearly 21 percent last season, the second highest of his career. So it seems as though he will continue to strike out more than 120 times again in 2016. Citi Field is by no means a hitter’s ballpark, but he showed everyone last season that his power can dwarf any stadium and that was further reinforced, by the fact that all 35 of his homers last season would have cleared the fences in Queens.
Cespedes is firmly entrenched as a top-20 fantasy OF next season, with his ceiling being what he was able to do in 2015. There should also be something said about what seems to be Cespedes wanting to stay in New York even though it seems he had better offers on the table.
People tend to associate him with being a clubhouse problem based on him being on numerous teams, even though I do not believe they are related at all, so with him staying with the Mets he should be motivated and ready to go in 2016.
2016 Early Projections: .275/30 HR/100 RBI/7 SB/90 R/.840 OPS