Yoenis Cespedes hit his fifth home run in 10 games Tuesday, raising his batting average and OBP to .444, while slugging 1.037 during Grapefruit League action.
"He's got a chance to make the club," Terry Collins joked with reporters after the game. "He is determined to have a big year."
In an article for Sports on Earth, Mike Lupica makes the case that Cespedes is the most talented and exciting hitter to ever wear a Mets uniform.
"He commands your attention," Collins told Lupica. "The tools he has compare to anybody else's in this game. Mike Trout's. Bryce Harper's. ... There's nothing those guys can do that he can't."
This past offseason, after agreeing to a four-year, $110 million contract to return to the Mets, he told the NY Post that he's set on winning an MVP award this season.
Mar 30, 2016; Cespedes (52) connects for a double at Tradition Field. Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
"That's what I want," he said. "The first thing is to stay healthy, but these are things that I've always thought about. It's any ballplayer's dream."
Cespedes got 10 percent of the votes in 2012 for the American League MVP. In 2015, despite playing just 57 games for the Mets after being acquired July 31, he got 13 percent of the NL vote. Last season, he got 8 percent.
"That's what he is shooting for," Mets hitting coach Kevin Long told the Post when asked if Cespedes can win the award in 2017. "He's determined to be the best player on the field."
In addition to playing less golf this past winter, Cespedes started doing personalized, baseball-specific workouts with the team's senior advisor of strength and conditioning, Mike Barwis, at his facility in Port St. Lucie.
First off, I'm surprised to read Lupica's statement, considering he covered Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza, both of whom were seemingly more captivating than Cespedes. I mean, I can recall getting run down in the halls of Shea Stadium by fans clammoring to see Darryl step to the plate. Piazza had this impact early, as well. I don't recall seeing it with Cespedes, but I could be wrong...
By the way, don't misunderstand, I love Cespedes. He's awesome and I'm thankful he's on the Mets. As I've said a few times this offseason, I see no reason he can't hit 40 home runs, win his MVP and lead the Mets to their third straight postseason. In fact, in mid February, after watching him strut around and crush baseballs in St. Lucie, I said on MetsBlog, "If available, I would be buying stock in Cespedes." I still feel this same way. He should be aiming for an MVP, because, given how strong he looks and how powerful he's been this spring, it's all for the taking.
In the end, he's right, for him this season it'll be all about remaining healthy. Because if he is, and if he's on field and in the lineup everyday, he's going to be amazing. And, in that scenario, if he does what he wants, Lupica could end up being 100 percent correct...