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Yoenis Cespedes was the Mets’ most valuable hitter in 2016

The Cuban outfielder led the Mets in home runs and OPS.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Go back in time one year, and Mets World was revolving around the same player that is right now. Once again, Yoenis Cespedes is a free agent, and once again, fans are eager to see him return to the Mets after he led the team to the postseason.

Cespedes wasn’t quite as good down the stretch as he was during New York’s magical run at the 2015 National League East title, but he did spend the entire season with the Mets in 2016. The consistent production he put forth throughout the campaign ensured that the offense never quite hit rock bottom like it did in the month before he came to Queens a year and a half ago.

In fact, Cespedes didn’t post a monthly OPS below .800 until his .708 mark in September. Overall, he hit .280/.354/.530 with a team-leading 31 home runs. The Cuban slugger didn’t hit for as much power or play center field as effectively as he did in 2015, but this version of Cespedes walked in more than nine percent of his plate appearances. That made for the highest walk rate of his career and allowed him to post his best on-base percentage since his rookie season of 2012.

The final tallies could have been even sexier had Cespedes not missed two weeks in August with a quadriceps injury. The malady limited the outfielder’s defense for the remainder of the season and perhaps held him back on offense as well. Still, there’s nothing that happened in 2016 that has made re-signing Cespedes less than top priority for the Mets this offseason. The increased patience and continued power he showed at the plate will make him the cornerstone to New York’s lineup should he return for 2017.

The Mets may have depth in the outfield with Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Juan Lagares all locked into roster spots, but none of those players were able to match what a healthy Cespedes provided the Mets last year.