YOENIS CESPEDES, OF
Player Data: Age: 31, B/L: Right/Right, Free Agency: 2017
2016 Primary Stats: 132 G, .280 AVG, .354 OBP, .530 SLG, .25 2B, 31 HR, 86 RBI
What a player. Yoenis Cespedes, for the second year in a row, was everything to the Mets’ offense. The team was 72-54 when Cespedes was in the starting lineup, and 15-21 when he was not. As was a theme with this year’s club, injuries definitely held Cespedes back. The Cuban slugger not only missed or did not start in 36 games, but played hurt for much of the year.
Yoenis began the season on a power tear, hitting 7 home runs in April and 8 more in May. He seemed like a lock to shatter the franchise’s single-season record, but injuries took their toll and his bat came a bit back down to earth, especially from a power standpoint.
That’s not to say Cespedes was only a first-half player. His return to the lineup in August was arguably the main catalyst for the terrific stretch run that carried this team to a second straight playoff appearance. And to judge a player’s season by his playoff performance, especially when that sample size this year was ONE GAME against an elite pitcher, is asinine.
Still, his numbers would be even more impressive if he had sustained his early level of play throughout the campaign. Yo’s first-half slash line was an incredible .302/.372/.583 with 21 home runs. And he wasn’t catastrophic in the field like some had feared (he certainly helped his team more, on the whole, than Jason Heyward).
Cespedes is, unquestionably, the big bat in this lineup. We have other solid offensive players, but nobody like him. But once again, he is a free agent. If the Mets can’t find a way to bring him back again, replacing him in the lineup will be an enormous challenge, especially when, while our other outfielders hit left-handed, Cespedes is a righty who absolutely crushes left-handed pitching.
Cespedes should still have plenty left in the tank at age 31, but he’ll need to avoid these nagging injuries. He’ll bring one of the league’s most dangerous bats to the table. But he’s a free agent, and he might be the headliner in a weak class. He’ll have some lucrative deals to choose from. He wants to be a Met, so hopefully the two sides can yet again find a way to make it work.