The Cuban slugger is coming off a pair of outstanding seasons, though 2016 was hampered by a lingering groin injury which eventually required a short visit to the DL in early August. That didn't stop Yoenis Cespedes from topping the 30-homer mark for the second straight season. He also exhibited more patience, walking nine percent of the time, a new career high. Cespedes' game still revolves around swinging as hard as he can in case he happens to make contact, something he's done at a steady 77-79 percent clip the last three years -- not great but acceptable in today's higher strikeout climate. The only thing keeping Cespedes from elite status is a lack of steals as players that can chip in 10 or so along with pop are more highly sought after. Still, Cespedes is easily a top-40 player so be ready to pony up on draft day.
Cespedes hit his fourth home run of the spring, a solo shot, in Friday's split-squad game against the Astros. His absurd numbers this spring include a .500 batting average, a 1.091 slugging percentage, and zero strikeouts in 22 at-bats. The Mets are counting on Cespedes to anchor a lineup that will get them back to the postseason, and he seems intent on hitting the ground running come Opening Day.
Cespedes went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, his third blast of the spring, in Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. He's been on fire at the plate so far this spring, hitting .526 (10-for-19) with a 1.579 OPS. Cespedes set career highs in walks and OPS in 2016, his first full season with the Mets, and with his contract situation no longer a distraction the 31-year-old slugger could take his production to another level in 2017.
Cespedes (hip) will bat third in the order and play left field in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports. Cespedes experienced tightness in his hip while advancing from first to third base in Sunday's game and had been held out of the lineup for the subsequent two days. It appears the time off was all Cespedes needed to heal up, as the fact that he's back in the field rather than serving as the team's DH indicates the Mets don't have much concern about his mobility. Though he's no longer a factor on the basepaths like he was as a rookie with the Athletics, Cespedes has hit 30-plus homers and batted at least .280 in the past two seasons, making him a high-floor selection in the early rounds of fantasy drafts.
Cespedes left Sunday's Grapefruit League game with tightness in his hip and quad muscles, The New York Daily News reports. "He thought his quad, hip was starting to tighten up a little bit, I am sure due to the wind," manager Terry Collins said. "We did baserunning stuff this morning, might have tightened up. So I got him out of there. Doctors looked at him and said he's just fine." This likely won't be an issue for Cespedes come Opening Day, but expect the Mets to hold him out Monday as a precaution, as he missed 14 games last season with quad issues.
Cespedes has been working hard in the offseason to strengthen his lower body and avoid a repeat of the quad injury that limited him in the second half of 2016, The NY Post reports. "I've really been concentrating on my legs so I can work from the ground up,'' Cespedes said earlier this week. "I am the only one who knew how much pain I was in [last season]. I was trying to mask it, trying to play through it and do as much as I could to help the team. After the games I was icing to try to be on the field as much as I could.'' The Mets made a $110 million commitment to Cespedes this offseason, and the 31-year-old has responded in kind by reporting early to the team's spring training complex and fully participating in the regimen that strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis has laid out for him. Cespedes has posted back-to-back campaigns with more than 30 home runs and a batting average of .280 or better, and after bouncing through four organizations in his first four MLB seasons, he seems to have found a home in New York. A career year in 2017 could be in the offing now that his maturity level seems to have caught up to his physical tools.