Somehow, someway Yoenis Cespedes has been flying under the radar. You hear about guys returning from injury and the focus is on the pitching staff. If it does turn to a hitter, it’s more likely to be about Michael Conforto than it is Cespedes. Perhaps that’s because Conforto’s return is unknown while Cespedes is in camp ready to go. But as important as he is to the team’s offense, it’s still odd. When the attention is on an offensive player, it seems to be about one of the free agents they signed.
Of course, Cespedes has helped himself out in that regard. He didn’t show up to camp on a horse or in a different expensive sports car each day. He’s not doing things to draw attention to himself. What he is doing is the work to make himself into a ballplayer and not a weightlifter. He’s doing yoga and running instead of maxing out in the weight room. If he starts drinking water or Gatorade, it will be about perfect.
Here’s what our panel thinks he will do this year:
The good news is that we all see him topping 500 PA, a welcome sight after the 321 PA he posted last year. We see a rather tight range of outcomes for him in most categories. The biggest exception is the .599 slugging mark predicted by Charlie, which is 39 points higher than the next closest forecast. But Cespedes is an established commodity and if we agree on playing time, it’s not a shock that the rest falls into place.
Even the wild card category saw a lot of agreement. Cespedes has a gun for an arm and isn’t afraid to show it off when given a chance. But he wasn’t always accurate last year and it’s not like the word isn’t out. Runners are not quick to challenge him. Nine of our 11 respondents had a total between nine and 12 assists, with an outlier in both directions. Even then, it wasn’t a huge number, as the bear went six and the bull went 14.
Here’s our official forecast:
This projection feels right, assuming the leg injuries don’t crop up again. But, is there a strong enough reason to think that at age 32, Cespedes will shake off those injuries once and for all? This seems like the appropriate time to consult the non-biased computer models.
It’s no surprise that Marcel has the least amount of playing time. But it’s somewhat encouraging that the other two both have Cespedes with a PA total in the 500s, with Steamer even having a few more than our group forecast. While Steamer sees him healthier than ZiPS, both of those systems are in close agreement on what to expect and it’s a step-and-a-half below our forecast in the triple slash line. But my opinion is that if he gets the playing time that his actual output will be closer to our forecast.
Check back Wednesday for our next entry in the projection series.