There are three important things every Marlins fan should know about what Yoenis Cespedes did yesterday.
- Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a legally binding contract to play baseball for the New York Mets.
- The New York Mets play in the same division as the Miami Marlins.
- Yoenis Cespedes appears to be very good at baseball.
Now any self respecting Fish fan should already be aware of the second of those, and you’ll likely come across the first on your own with minimal effort, it was rather big news. But upon reading that third bullet point you may be asking yourself, just how good is Yoenis Cespedes at baseball? Well that’s a good question, and it has a somewhat complicated answer.
The complication comes mainly from the crazy home run streak Cespedes went on towards the end of last season.
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During the first half of season, which comprised 366 PA and featured Cespedes playing his home games in a hitters park, he slugged 13 home runs. Compare that to the second half, 310 and 22 home runs while playing in the cavernous Citi field. looking at his batted ball data we see that FB% (quite simply the percent of times that balls off his bat turn into fly balls, the kind of batted balls that become home runs) went up only 3%, leading to a jump in HR/FB% from 13% to 25%, that’s staggering.
For the Graph inclined amongst you here’s all that in a graph.
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So we’ve established that Cespedes’s 2015 was a tale of two halves, but was the first half a slump? Or the second an unsustainable hot streak? Well history shows that it’s a little bit of both actually, but probably a bit closer to the second.
If you like WAR as a measure of performance 2015 was a pretty huge jump from career norms. The Cuban slugger posted a 6.7 WAR overall, his previous high was 3.3 in 2014. Typically that kind of unexplained jump in production is a red blinking regression sign. Sure it’s possible it was a step forward, breakout seasons do happen and this is exactly the kind of production scouts have been forecasting for Cespedes since he came over. Except that step forward came between ages 28 and 29, it’s not as if his explosion of production can be explained by entering his prime. Then there’s the fact that his FB% has been dropping, and in 2015 was actually 5% lower than his career average, that makes that 25% HR/FB look more and more like a fluke. OK fluke is a strong word, but certainly an over performance.
In truth Cespedes is probably an above average power guy, he swings too much, when he does he misses far too often, but when he hits the ball man does it go far. Add in his defensive shortcomings in CF (-17 career DRS), yet above average base running and it seems clear that the Mets have gotten themselves a helpful, if not world shattering, piece. The unfortunate thing is with the rotation they have that might be all that is needed for the Fish to be sealed out of 2nd place in the division, or since the Nats still have Papelbon on their team 1st place once he inevitably causes their complete destruction.