In New York, Cespedes started elevating the baseball in a way he hadn’t earlier in the season, and the result was that balls started flying over the fence. His average launch angle so far in 2016? 17.4 degrees. A one-month spike is now a three-month trend, and the spike in balls in the air is one of the primary reasons why Cespedes is producing at an elite offensive level.
But the remarkable thing isn’t so much that he’s been able to hit the ball in the air more often; lots of guys could do that by changing the angle of their swing. But the downside to an uppercut swing is that it also usually leads to an increase in whiffs; there’s a reason why guys like Chris Davis run strikeout rates over 30%. Cespedes, though, hasn’t really sacrificed any contact while finding this power stroke.
Since September 1st, lining up with this change in launch angle, Cespedes has made contact on 86.8% of his in-zone swings and 76.3% of his swings overall. For his career up through August 31st, Cespedes had made contact on 85.3% of his in-zones wings and 76.5% of his swings overall. Cespedes has somehow pulled off the pretty rare trick of adding power without having to swing and miss more often, and that has made him a substantially better hitter than he was earlier in his career.