December 14, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Outfielders for 12/14/12
Yoenis Cespedes | Oakland A’s
Cespedes, Oakland’s big free-agent splash of last offseason, debuted in the spring to a multitude of swirling questions. Would his Cuban League stats translate to the majors? Does his viral training video of him doing four-foot squat jumps substantiate his baseball abilities? Is he really the perfect combination of speed and power? Fairly early into the season it became clear that the answer to all of these questions was, indeed, yes. By the end of April, he was batting .250 and had already tallied five homers and four steals, proving himself a valuable fantasy asset.
After a DL stint that encompassed most of May, Cespedes caught fire in June and stayed hot for (mostly) the rest of the season. His age-26 rookie-year stat line ended up looking like this: 70 R, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, and a .292 average—one potentially worthy of hardware in most years.
The comforting aspect of Cespedes’ numbers is that there are virtually no red flags hiding in the periphery. His biggest question mark coming into the year was his ability to make contact, and that proved not to be a major issue with his slightly above-average 19 percent strikeout rate. To anyone who got to watch him play, the ball truly does jump off his bat. His .328 BABIP is not alarmingly high for a player with his speed and batted ball profile, and he draws his fair share of walks.
The only thing, it seems, that can stop Cespedes is himself, with injuries limiting him to 130 games last year. Besides landing on the DL for 24 days with a strained hand, Cespedes was also limited at times by thigh, knee, thumb, and wrist ailments throughout the year. While none of these were major injuries, they also weren’t of the fluky variety either. All players pose injury risks, but Cespedes does appear especially prone to small tweaks and strains, which should be taken into account.
Having said that, Cespedes is still a physical specimen in his prime with a productive season under his belt. His injury risk and the Oakland environment prevent him from being a top-30 player, but his five-tool talent assuredly lands him somewhere in the 30-to-60 range.