After cycling through a couple of different potential trade options, that fell apart for any variety of reasons depending who you talk to, the New York Mets finally landed the outfielder they coveted in acquiring Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. The well-traveled Cespedes, despite being an All-Star in 2014 and having his best offensive year thus far in 2015, finds his way to his fourth team in the last calendar year.
Almost across the board, Yoenis Cespedes is turning in his best offensive season since his rookie year back in 2012. His 4.2 WAR represents a career mark, as he’s slashing .293/.323/.506/.829. Those numbers aren’t really going to blow anyone away, but after two seasons of a .294 and a .301 OBP, respectively, they represent a marked improvement.
That progression from the last couple of years is thanks, in part, to a BABIP that has leapt to .331, the highest figure in his career. His contact rate has dropped just barely from last year, as he still maintains a respectable 78.2 Contact%. It helps that he has a 35.3% Hard hit rate, the highest of his career, a figure which had him ranked 12th in the American League prior to his trade from the Tigers.
According to Baseball Savant, nobody has hit more balls with an exit velocity over 105 MPH than Cespedes. He has 69 on the season, which is 10 more than the second closest player (Mike Trout). We can attribute that nice looking BABIP to his ability to hit the ball as hard as he does. He’s also posted a .213 ISO, a point off the career high he set as a rookie in 2012. This is a guy who not only hits the ball hard, but obviously does it for extra bases.
Of course, there are drawbacks with Cespedes at the plate. He doesn’t walk. At all. His BB% is at just 4.4 for the year, the third consecutive year that he’s dropped his walk rate by a percentage. He’s also maintaining a strikeout rate over 20%, at 20.4 for the season. He had the 22nd highest swing rate in the American League (50.9%) before the trade. When he makes contact, he makes things happen, but you’d like to see him hacking less and walking more, even if he could get it to climb back over six percent.
That’s especially true given the situation in which the New York Mets find themselves. A team with top notch pitching, particularly in regard to their rotation, the Mets have had all sorts of issues scratching runs across the plate in 2015. They’re dead last in the league in runs, at 363 for the season. They’re in the bottom half of the league in BB% (7.4%). They have the ninth highest strikeout rate in the league (21.0 K%). As a team, their wRC+ is at 87, which ranks 26th in the league.
Yoenis Cespedes is a very solid player. He’s an impact bat to an extent, and he plays quality defense. He’ll add necessary power to the mix for the Mets and an ability to hit for extra bases overall that hasn’t been demonstrated in New York (.129 ISO). But he’s not going to aid their mediocre walk rates or propensity for striking out. In that regard, it’ll be status quo.
Obviously the goal here for the Mets was to get an impact bat. They did that. Cespedes’ wRC+, at 125, labels him as an above average hitter. He’ll help them, for sure. But a team with as many glaring offensive holes as the Mets have, even a potentially impact addition like Yoenis Cespedes isn’t going to help them outduel the Pittsburgh Pirates or San Francisco Giants for a wild card spot out of the National League.
**Statistics via FanGraphs
Randy Holt is the managing editor for Statliners. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.