Last year, he moved over to center field on the fly. The year before, he played only very occasional center field. The year before, it was the same thing. And while Cespedes started as a center fielder as a rookie, at that point he was adjusting to literally everything in the US. And he didn’t play so much center field after May. He just hasn’t had that much of a chance.
For more information, we have a few routes. As an example, since 2002, we have 16 cases of a player getting regular time in center field a season after getting regular time in left or right field. These are players who made adjustments similar to Cespedes, and in the first year, as corner outfielders, they averaged a UZR/150 of +8.2. In the second year, as center fielders, they averaged a UZR/150 of -0.7. They declined as a group, of course, because center field is a tough position, but this basically agrees with our normal positional adjustment of 10 runs between the spots. Based on this, the expectation should be that Cespedes will be okay. Neither great nor terrible.
Source: Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs
Last year, in 1,022.1 innings in LF, Cespedes had a 22.1 UZR/150 and in 312. 1 innings in CF, he had a (-14.0 mark). In his career, Cespedes has a 13.9 UZR/150 in LF (3,383 innings) and a (-17.6) mark in CF (912.2 innings).
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