Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes is the third-best left fielder in the National League, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, MLB talent evaluators, and the team at ESPN Stats & Info.
However, Olney adds, if Cespedes can play 150 games, he would be number one.
"Tool-for-tool, he's as good as anybody in baseball," former Mets manager Terry Collins told WFAN in November. "He has the ability to turn the league upside down if he wants to."
In September, Cespedes told reporters he intended to do more running this offseason in an effort to keep his legs more healthy.
"I want to become more flexible, more athletic, have less bulk," Cespedes told the NY Post at the end of last season.. "I want to do less weight lifting. I'm going to do some different things, I want to do yoga, more stretching. I want to be lighter. I want to come back around 210, lose about 15 pounds.''
His overall stats were disappointing last year. However, he played very well during stretches when he reported being healthy and strong. For example, Cespedes had a nice April, finishing with a 1.020 OPS and nine RBI. He played even better after missing all of May and returning from the disabled list. However, starting around the end of June through the All-Star break and in to August, he hit just .239 with only three HR and 12 RBI in 35 games... and then his season ended with a hamstring injury.
Apr 27, 2017; Cespedes (52) reacts after an injury at Citi Field. Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Had he produced a full season of what he did before hitting the DL in May (when he presumably felt his best in 2017), Cespedes could have hit .300 with a .366 OBP, 35 home runs, 90 RBI and 100 strikeouts. These stats are along the lines of what he did in 2016, which, according to FanGraphs, was worth 3.2 wins above replacement (WAR). These numbers would also be well worth the $22 million he's being paid.
In other words, strong legs, strong Cespedes. Weak legs, weak Cespedes. This is why I'm happy to hear he plans to adjust his offseason workouts to focus less on mass and more on cardio, stretching, and endurance training.
There have been zero reports on his progress this winter. Neither he or the team has posted anything about him on social media. In this regard, I'm trusting no news is good news and that he's busting his hump becoming the athlete he wants to be. Because if he does it, and if he slims down a bit, and if he becomes more quick and can stay on field for 140 or so games, he'll almost certainly go back to at least being the guy he was in 2016.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...