by Ray Kuhn
After 600 AB in 2014 and 633 AB in 2015, Yoenis Cespedes was bit by the injury bug last season and managed just 479 Ab in ’16. All signs point to the outfielder being healthy, and as a bonus he won’t have to worry about playing centerfield. If he continues on the same home run pace he established last season, a 40 home season is very possible.
So why is he currently the 15th outfielder being selected with an ADP of 59.56?
The only true knock I can find is that his speed has been on the decline and he doesn’t run anymore, but it’s hard to find fault with any other aspect of his game. There is also no reason why we shouldn’t expect his recent success to continue, as it is well supported.
Cespedes eclipsed the century mark for RBI in 2014 and 2015, but last year he fell short with 86. Also, after averaging 95 runs scored during those two seasons he scored just 72 runs last season. These are easiest of the four remaining categories to tackle, as there is a clear relationship to playing time If we simply carry over Cespedes’ 2016 trends to this season while assuming 600 at bats, he is at 108 RBI and 90 runs scored. The Mets lineup figures to be improved from last season with Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce, David Wright and Lucas Duda all available entering the season. Now they are not without questions or concerns, but it is an upgrade. Based on track record alone there should be an improvement in 2017, which Cespedes will benefit from.
Blindly applying one season’s worth of statistics to an increase of AB could lead to trouble. In the case of Cespedes I feel comfortable due to the track record he has established over the past five seasons, along with his underlying metrics. However, we might have to dial things back slightly in the home run department.
Prior to 2015 his career high was 26 HR. He then hit 35 and followed that up with 31 last year., a pace makes 40 HR a real possibility. How he has gotten here, though, is interesting.
After he had fly ball rates of 46% and 48% in 2013 and 2014, respectively, Cespedes’ fly ball rate dropped to 38% and 41% in the next two seasons while seeing his home run total rise. During this time hisPower Index has increased (average of 153 compared to 135), but his expected Power Index has remained relatively consistent (127 in 2013 and 2014 before jumping to 132 and 137 in 2015 and 2016). The big difference is that 19% and 20% of Cespedes’ fly balls in the last two seasons have turned into home runs, compared to 14% and 10% in the prior years. If you are going to invest in the outfielder, this is what you want to see as his Hard Contact Rate over the past two seasons has been an average 123.5, compared to an average of 103 in 2013 and 2014.
Historically he has made contact slightly below average (78 over the past three seasons), but he came on strong in the second half of last season at 84%. With an expected batting average of .280, matching his actual mark, there is no reason not to expect more of the same this season.
Entering this season the outfielder represents a relatively secure investment. If there is going to be any change or deviation to his performance it likely will be for the better, which makes Cespedes an outfielder I will be targeting.
Source – Baseball HQ
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|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|