Yoenis Cespedes has already had a big impact on the Mets in his short time with the team. His acquisition alone has been lauded by Mets players as a sign that the front office was finally willing to go all in for a playoff run.
His daily presence in the Mets lineup has helped create a much deeper and more intimidating offense. He has played a solid center field when called upon, and has shown off his absolute canon for an arm.
Despite all that, Cespedes could do much, much more where he is most needed – at the plate.
The sample size is extremely small, but since joining the Mets Cespedes has been underwhelming with the bat. In 17 games he is hitting a respectable .274 but has just two home runs and five doubles, three of which came in one game. Cespedes is slugging just .425 as a Met, well below the .506 he posted with the Tigers this season and his .471 career number. Since he never walks (which we knew all along), his OPS is just.727, a steep drop from the .829 OPS he had with Detroit.
While the Mets offensive output has significantly improved since acquiring Cespedes, much of that has been due to streaks by other hitters such as Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson. You could argue that the mere presence of Cespedes in the lineup has helped those other batters see better pitches and become more productive, which is probably true to some degree. But the fact is that so far as a Met, Cespedes has not been the type of big time, middle-of-the-order hitter we expected and were so excited about acquiring.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to conjure visions of Jason Bay, or even John Mayberry, Jr.. And again, 17 games do not make a season. However, with just 42 games remaining and the Mets clinging to a 3.5 game lead over the Nationals, every single game carries immense importance. With a struggling bullpen making every low scoring affair a scary proposition, and an offense that is still prone to droughts, the Mets sorely need Cespedes to come alive at the plate over the last quarter of the season.
The good news is we know that he can do it. In his four years in the majors, Cespedes has shown that he is the type of hitter that can carry an offense. And with his free agency approaching and a $100 million-plus contract very possible, he has every incentive to go on a tear the rest of the year. But in his short time with the Mets, Cespedes hasn’t been much more than a mediocre hitter with enormous breakout potential.
The Mets, in the midst of a heated pennant race, need that that potential to become reality quickly.