Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What to Make of Yoenis Cespedes in 2014


In his first two MLB seasons, Yoenis Cespedes has been incredibly consistent at scoring runs, homers, and RBI for the Oakland Athletics. 

Yoenis Cespedes: MLB Career

Season
H/AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
2012142/48770238216.292
2013127/5297426807.240

As you can see, the flip side of that is that his steals and average leave a little more for the mind to wonder about.

A guy like Cespedes, who’s only been in the league for two years and had dramatically different results, can be hard to predict. Still, we do have some numbers for him: 

Yoenis Cespedes: 2014 Projections

H/AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
144/54676288312.265

I doesn’t take a statistician to realize there is mathematical validity to these projections.  The real trick with a guy like Yoeny — I can call him that, I checked — is why the huge drop from one year to the next in a category like average, and is it fixable?

Early reports out of Spring training are that Cespedes has shortened his swing this year to make contact more often.  So he is being proactive in trying to correct the drop in batting average.

I wrote about his long swing when he first came in, and mentioned that most scouts referred to it as a “good long swing”.  Normally you want to see a swing that is “quick to, long through”—that is quick to the ball, and long through the ball. Cespedes rode the line of a little long to the ball, (but it looks so pretty and he hits the ball so hard that no one really cares right?) and it appears he is going to try to quicken his path to the ball.

This is in effort to cut down his strikes and give him more contact, and the thought is it will not sap his home run power. So if this does in fact give him higher contact rate, and does not affect his power much — and that hasn’t happened this year — then Yoeny could be in line for a monster year.

The key will of course be what he does when the real games start. As an owner you may have to be patient as he gains comfort with his new swing, against real competition. These swing tweaks aren’t always the quickest of transitions.

Also, say this doesn’t necessarily make Cepedes take a step back in power, but it levels him off as a guy who’s a 30 HR max type of guy.That might change his fantasy value. Those owners drafting or keeping Cespedes hoping he turns the power corner to a 35-40 guy as he reaches his power prime 28-29 years old could have to reassess their expectations of him. Sure if he has a good uptick in average, a slight drop in power potential could be a wash to most owners, or at least some of them.

However, if you are like me, you draft guys for very specific reasons. I do not like to end up with a surplus of production in one category and end up short in another because I have specific goals in mind. Carrying the nickname “La Potencia”—the power or powerful—from Cuba (which is a thousand times better than “the Cuban Missile” by the way), you don’t exactly draft Cespedes to hit to contact and rope out 20-25 bombs, you want to see if he can be, “the Cuban Crush” (still better than “the Cuban Missile”).

With so many guys like Joe Mauer, Norichika Aoki, and Martin Prado available to curb your average in the right direction, you need some guys who can flirt with 40 bombs even at the cost of a .250-.260 average.  These guys make perfect coupling candidates.  So, let’s hope the efforts of Yoenis Cespedes and the A’s to make Yoeny into a more complete hitter don’t affect his fantasy value too much, because that is what really matters, right?

Tags: MLB Oakland Athletics Outfield Yoenis Cespedes