Jul 31, 2015

The Newsest Met Slugger: Yoenis Cespedes (2015)

Yoenis Cespedes was born October 18th 1985, in Campechuela, Cuba. His mother Estela Milanes was a softball pitcher in the 2000 Olympics & his father was a former Cuban League catcher. At age ten he was sent to a state school to focus on baseball. He played in Cuba at Granma, from the ages of 17 to 24 being a .319 career hitter.

In 2011 he & ten family members defected from Cuba landing in the Dominican Republic. Then the right hand hitting outfielder was signed by the Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent in 2012. He was considered a five tool player & one of the best to come out of Cuba in a generation.

He was ready for Opening Day 2012. In his second career game he hit his first career HR & then hit HRs in the next two as well, driving in two runs in each game. In his first month he hit five HR with 19 RBI. On June 21st he hit his first walk off HR it came against the LA Dodgers. He began the year in center field but quickly became the A's regular left fielder, when Cocoa Crisp returned from injury. Cespedes led the team in batting (.292) while coming in second on the club in HRs (23) RBIs (82) & doubles (25). He also had 16 steals, five triples & a .356 on base %. 

His strong arm in the outfield led him to six assists (4th in the AL). Oakland won the AL West that year & Cespedes hit .316 in the ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers. 

At the 2013 All Star Game in Citi Field, he was chosen by A.L. team Captain Robinson Cano as a last minute addition to participate in the HR Derby. He put on a show hitting 30 HRs, beating Bryce Harper while becoming the first player to win the Derby while not been selected to the actual game. On the season he battled through injuries, but still hit 26 HRs with 80 RBIs while batting .240 in 135 games.

Post Season: That year the Athletics won another divisional title under manager Bob Melvin, beating the Texas Rangers by five games with a strong finish winning 16 of their last 22 games. They once again lost the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers, with Cespedes hitting a HR in Game #1. Overall he drove in four runs batting .381 with a .409 on base %. 

In 2014 he had another good start at the plate & on the field. In late May he put on a show nailing runners with his strong throwing arm. He had three put outs in games against the Toronto Blue Jays & Baltimore Orioles. On May 31st against the Anaheim Angels he threw out both Chris Iannetta & Kole Calhoun at the plate. On June 10th, again against the Angels, he made a 300 foot throw home to nail Howie Kendrick & then the next night threw out Albert Pujols at third base.

Cespedes along with six other A's players went to the All Star Game that season. He was leading in the balloting but lost out to Adam Jones in the final week of voting. He participated in the HR derby again & became the first player since Ken Griffey Jr. to win back to back derby's. In the actual game in Minnesota he was 0-2.

The Athletics had been in first place most of the season, with fine young pitching & Cespedes being one of the teams best bats. On July 31st, the A's traded him to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester & Johnny Gnomes. By mid August Oakland fell out of first place & barley made a wild card spot at the end of year. They would lose the Wild Card game to the eventual AL Champion  Kansas City Royals. In 51 games in Boston, he hit 5 HRs with 10 doubles & 33 RBIs batting .269.

Overall he had a fine year driving in 100 runs (9th in the AL) for the first time in his career, he batted .260 with 22 HRs, 36 doubles (3rd in the league) 6 triples, 89 runs scored (10th in the AL) & seven sac flies (10th in the AL). In the outfield he led the league in assists (16) & put outs (204).

In December he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.The year did not go as planned in Detroit, after playing in a league leading 102 games Cespedes was batting .293 with 18 HRs 28 doubles 62 runs scored & 61 RBIs. On July 31st hours before the trade deadline, he was sent to the New York Mets for a pair of minor leaguers. Cespedes.

Cespedes expected to be traded & was following the afternoon trade deadline dealings on TV. With nine minutes to go he saw that he was traded to New York & his manager confirmed the deal. He said he feels no pressure playing in New York & will just go out play his game & have fun.

Quotes: "Honestly, I don’t know much about the Mets, given the fact that they are in the National League. But the one thing I can tell you that I do know is how good their pitching is."

GM Sandy Alderson: "He's a very dynamic player, We think he's going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived."

At the 2015 trade deadline, the Mets GM Sandy Alderson landed one of the best late season acquisitions the Mets ever landed in Yoenis Cespedes.

In 1969 it was Donn Clendenon that helped a pitching rich team with little offense. Clendenon went on to win the World Series MVP Award. In 2015 Cespedes would take charge put the Mets offense on his back taking them through the pennant drive.

Yoenis Cespedes arrived with the Mets on August 1st playing centerfield & batting in the third position. That night he drew a walk going 0-3 in a 3-2 win over the Washington Nats, as the Mets got themselves within one game of first place. The next night they would beat Washington to tie for the NL East first place spot.

On August 3rd, Cespedes collected three hits, all doubles while riving in four runs in the Mets 1-1 romp in Miami. On August 12th, he hit his first Mets HR, a solo shot coming in a  3-0 Mets win against the Colorado Rockies. He would drive in runs in three straight games, hitting another HR two days later.

On August 21st, Cespedes had one of his best nights & put in one of the best Mets offensive games  ever. Cespedes blasted three HRs, while collecting five hits & driving in seven runs in a 14-9 Mets win in Colorado. In the 2nd inning he blasted a grand slam HR off Jon Gray to start out his big night.

In Philadelphia on August 24th & 25th he hit HRs in back to back games, leading the Mets to wins in both games. He would homer again in the fourth game of that series driving in two more runs. On his first Mets road trip Cespedes hit six HRs driving in 15 runs while collecting 14 hits, keeping his average just below .300.

As the Mets entered September they had a six game lead over the Nats & were starting to run away with he division. The Mets pitching was solid all year but now the offens tok off led by Cespedes. In the firsttwo weeks of the month he would go on aa tear like almost no Mets player ever saw, Cespedes was the  hottest hitter in the league at just he right time.


From September 1st to the 14th he nine HRs with 21hits four doubles & two triples, while driving in 19 runs scoring 16 more runs. In that stretch the Mets had an eight game winning streak & won 10 of 13 games, on their way to the division title.

On September 8th, the Mets were down 7-1 to the Nats when they had an incredible six run 7th inning tying up the game. In that inning Cespedes cleared the bases with a three run double. The Mets went on to an 8-7 victory.

The next night his two run HR in the 8th inning broke a 2-2 tie leading to a 5-3 Mets win. On September 11th his three run night in Atlanta, led to the Mets 5-1 win over the Braves. The next night he homered again & drove in two more runs in the 6-4 Mets win.

From there he cooled off driving in just two more runs the rest of the way. In his 57 games with the Mets, he had 66 hits with 17 HRs 14 doubles four triples 44 RBIs & 39 runs scored. He batted .287 with a .337 on base% & a .604 slugging %.

His presence was known on the field defensively as well, in 54 games he posted four assists posting a .985 fielding %. Soon enough the rest of the league knew better than trying to run on Cespedes.

In the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he homered in the Mets Game #2 loss & then again in the Game #3 Mets 13-7 win. That night Cespedes had three hits & drove in three runs as well.

In that series he had five hits t go along with the two four RBIs. Overall in the NLDS he batted .250 (5-20) with 2 HRs & 4 RBIs. 

In the NLCS Game #3 at Wrigley Field, Cespedes had a big three hit night, starting out with a 1st inning RBI double. He later added an RBI single, helping Jacob deGrom & the Mets to a 5-2 win. In the NLCS he batted .286 going 4-14 with three RBIs.

In the World Series he would struggle going just 3-20 batting .150.

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