Yoenis Cespedes enjoyed a career year in 2015, minus the playoffs. He was traded to the New York Mets for a surprise postseason run, flourished to post gaudy offensive numbers and was a part of the changes in Flushing that sent New York to the World Series.
But perhaps, just perhaps, Cespedes isn’t the best Mets outfielder.
Curtis Granderson has enjoyed a very strong career and 2015 seemed to be part of a very slow swan song. He’s not quite the dynamic centerfielder he once was in Comerica Park and Yankee Stadium, but Granderson opened a lot of eyes in Citi Field last season.
Cespedes finished no. 13 overall in the 2015 NL MVP voting behind runaway winner Bryce Harper. Earning $10.5 million, he finished the regular season with 35 home runs, 7 home runs and a .297/.328/.542 slash, all powered by a .323 BABIP. Fangraphs pegged him at 6.7 Wins Above Replacement and valued the Cuban slugger at $53.9 million.
Meanwhile, Granderson finished no. 18 in the NL MVP voting. Pulling in $16 million, the aging veteran slashed .259/.364/.457 with 26 home runs, 11 stolen bases and a .305 BABIP. FanGraphs valued Granderson at $41 million and 5.1 WAR.
Those offensive numbers are also a bit skewed in favor of Cespedes. He enjoyed a career year, something Mets fans will ever see again. His numbers were also slightly inflated by his BABIP – over the .300 benchmark average and over his .304 career average. In addition, Cespedes’ annual average WAR is 3.4, well below his 6.7 figure from last year. Granderson’s 2015 BABIP, however, was more in line with his .301 BABIP and his 2015 WAR was a little closer to his career average WAR of 3.45.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m absolutely not saying Granderson will have a better year than Cespedes this season. After a dozen years at the majors, Granderson turns 34 in March and clearly doesn’t have the same speed or power he once did. Previously a regular in center field, he doesn’t figure to be in the Mets’ mix. Almost four years younger, Cespedes has the raw ability Granderson lost and about 800 fewer games of wear and tear throughout his pro-ball career.
My only point is that Granderson could surprise some folks again in 2016, and Yoenis Cespedes may disappoint some.