New York Mets Player Evaluations: Designated Hitter Yoenis Cespedes

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes
Jul 20, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes (52) adjusts his sunglasses during warms up before a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes set extremely unrealistic expectations for his final season with the New York Mets and never came close to them. He only played in nine games, never spent a single inning in the outfield, and abandoned the team when things were not going well.

Cespedes spent all offseason claiming there would be some magical return. In summer camp, he even flexed his muscle, hitting the majestic home runs, making him a fan favorite when he was healthy. The biggest questions for him were his ability to hit major league pitching after so much time on the sidelines and how his legs will make it through the season.

With the designated hitter in place, the Mets opted to use him over Dominic Smith early in the season. The comeback story started great for Cespedes as he homered in his first game back during the Mets 1-0 opening day victory over the Atlanta Braves. As soon as the ball hit the stands, the story ended there.

Lack of Production

There was not enough WD-40 in the world to get rid of the rust that riddled an aging Cespedes. At the plate, he went 5-for-31 with two home runs and an astounding 15 strikeouts during nine games. Cespedes could still hit the fastball but flailed when the breaking balls and offspeed pitches came around. He was 1-for-16 on those pitches compared to 4-for-15 when he saw fastballs.

Cespedes’ legs also were not on a level for him to contribute as a complete player. It forced him to run the bases at the same speed as Wilson Ramos and limited him to DH duty. Cespedes did not like his role on the team, and his lack of production would not allow him to meet his contract incentives. He likes to march to the beat of his own drum and did so once again when he left the team for good in Atlanta.

On to the Next One

It showed why Cespedes was shipped around by so many teams in his career. He is a selfish player who craves attention in good times but cannot face the music in tough spots. A beautiful relationship that started with a white-hot 2015 season ended in bitter disappointment as he turned his back on his teammates like a dead-beat father.

The reason he left was clear as day. Cespedes was getting older and needed a full spring training to have any hope of returning as an everyday player. Once he realized Dominic Smith was taking away his playing time, he wanted no part of being a bench player. Cespedes took his ball, or in his case, dance shoes, and went back home.

The culture of the 2015/2016 teams he led was completely flipped by the time he was able to play again. New leaders emerged, and it was a culture that was able to move on and thrive without Cespedes. He showed nothing promising and it will be a surprise to see him play again.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (20), Once was a great breaking ball hitter, but that eluded him in 2020.

Power: 65 (50), Three of his five hits went for extra bases, but the 15 strikeouts overshadow that.

Run: 20 (20), Simply cannot move anymore.

Throw: N/A (60), Assumingly the strong arm is still there, but we may never see it again.

Field: N/A (30), Cannot field if you cannot move.

Overall: 25 (20), It will be one of baseball’s all-time miracles if he ever plays like a shadow of his former self.

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