As the New York Mets continue their pursuit of a playoff spot, in currently maintaining a firm grip on the National League East, the buzz is beginning to erupt for Yoenis Cespedes as an MVP candidate out of the National League. You’ll remember, this site (and this very author) didn’t criticize the move, but did declare that it wouldn’t be enough for the offense-starved Mets. While he hasn’t been the sole reason for their recent rise, and a major factor as to why they currently find themselves in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, he’s certainly been the largest one.
Cespedes has just 36 games under his belt with the Mets, and given that he spent the first half of the year with the Detroit Tigers, that means he has less than 40 games to his credit in the National League total. But what a 36 game set it’s been, as Cespedes has absolutely lit the baseball world aflame since arriving in New York.
Those 36 games with the Mets feature a slash line of .312/.357/.675/1.032. Sample size be damned, those are his best marks across the board at any point in his brief Major League career. Baseball Reference already has him at a 1.8 WAR for that still short stretch of playing time.
That offensive impact that Cespedes has really been featured across the board. He has 14 home runs as a member of the Mets, accounting for almost half of his 32 that he has on the year, which has already pretty seriously eclipsed his previous career high of 26. He’s knocked in 36 runs as a member of the Mets. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given that he’s hit .310 this season with runners on. His 6.8 WAR that he’s posted on the year overall, between New York and Detroit, is more than twice his previous career best of 3.3.
Even though the tremendous buzz surrounding Cespedes has only recently erupted because of the Mets’ recent surge, Cespedes isn’t necessarily doing anything different than what he’s done all year. His hard hit ball rate for the year is up over 36%, with a linedrive rate of 20.4%. His exit velocity spray chart, courtesy of Baseball Savant, paints a very pretty, and quite red, picture:
There isn’t any question that Cespedes has had a fine year, regardless of where he’s been playing his home games. He’s been especially good, and playing on a much larger stage, with the playoff bound Mets. Good enough to the point where he’s garnered serious discussion for the National League Most Valuable Player award. It’s a nice thought, sure, given what he’s meant to the Mets in such a short time. At the same time, we’re talking about the entire body of work over the course of an entire season. And when it comes to that criteria, there isn’t any debate as to who represents the best choice for such an accolade.
Bryce Harper has been a force across the National League for an entire season. Here’s where he ranks across the NL in various statistical categories that’ll be factored, or at least considered, into the MVP voting when it’s all said and done:
- AVG: .336 (1st)
- OBP: .467 (1st)
- HR: 36 (2nd)
- BB%: 19.3 (2nd)
- ISO: .321 (1st)
- wRC+: 201 (1st)
- WAR: 8.6 (1st)
That’s for a total body of work, over an entire season. That’s what earns an MVP award. Not a short stretch like what Cespedes has seen with the Mets.
If we’re going by a 36 game sample to determine whether a player should take home such a significant award, then perhaps we should examine this gem of a tweet pointing out a certain 36-game stretch for Bryce Harper, which is actually probably more impressive than what Cespedes has done in New York:
That really should put to bed any argument that Yoenis Cespedes has somehow earned the award over Bryce Harper. While handing an accolade to anyone over a 36 game stretch is obviously absurd, it does speak to the impact that Cespedes has had for the New York Mets since he was acquired. He’s likely far exceeded their expectations, and those of fans and analysts throughout the baseball world, as the Mets continue to do the same in surging toward a playoff spot for the first time since 2006.
This isn’t meant to take anything away from that brilliance of Yoenis Cespedes. In a contract year, he’s had a career year. A player that likely was in the upper echelon of Major League Baseball position players in name only, more than performance, has established himself as one of the most dangerous bats around. He’s not only setting the Mets up for a potentially successful postseason run, but a massive payday this winter.
He just isn’t the Most Valuable Player in the National League.
**Statistics via FanGraphs
Randy Holt is an editor for Statliners. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.