Yoenis Cespedes for his Mets career has hit .285/.350/.550 with a 138 wRC+ and .375 wOBA. Before becoming a Met, Cespedes hit .269/.317/.473 with a 117 wRC+ and .339 wOBA for his career. Cespedes went from a third outfielder with power to one of the best hitters in the game.
What changed in his game? Well for starters, Cespedes’ ground ball rate before becoming a Met was 38.3% which is generally a low number. In his first full year with the club, that number was 37.1% and in 2017, that number decreased to 34.5%. The number itself is not a large drop but perhaps it’s Cespedes’ change in approach.
The Mets preach the concept of trying to hit fly balls instead of trying to hit home runs. Jay Bruce, for example, has mentioned his altered approach in the New York Times. Instead of trying to hit a home run every at-bat, Bruce tried to simply hit fly balls instead. It’s believable that Cespedes used this same philosophy in his game to help his production.
In addition to hitting more fly balls, he has also been hitting the ball very hard since arriving in New York. His exit velocity on fly balls and line drives in 2017 was 94.3 MPH, good for 24th out of 387 hitters with 100 balls put in play. He also barreled the ball in 7.8% of his plate appearances, tied for 23rd among those same 387 hitters. Long story short, he’s making really strong contact on balls hit in the air and he’s barreled them very well.
I really don’t think I have to use anymore stats to show that Cespedes is a great hitter and has been significantly better as a Met. If he’s healthy, he will be a significant contributor to the team in 2018. Steamer projects him to hit .269/.332/.509 with a .350 wOBA and 118 wRC+. Steamer does not take swing adjustments and Statcast into account when making it’s predictions so I’ll go on record and say he will outperform these projections.
The only thing that would hold Cespedes back, in my opinion, is health. So far, his hamstrings have been okay in the spring but he’s had some wrist and shoulder issues. I hope it’s just the Mets being extra careful because the team is going to need to have Cespedes in the lineup if they want to contend.