clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

An early look at Yoenis Cespedes's performance at the plate

The power numbers are encouraging, but Cespedes is striking out more often than he has in the past.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Eight games into the season, Yoenis Cespedes was already getting booed by some of the same fans who rejoiced that the free-swinging outfielder decided to return to the Mets for one-to-three more years. Perhaps the fact that he was hitting a disappointing .233/.324/.333 with only one home run was on Cespedes's mind when he threw caution to the Flushing winds and dove into the stands in pursuit of a foul ball.

Five games and six extra-base hits later, Cespedes is hitting .286/.375/.612, numbers that are even better than his fantastic 57-game stint with the Mets in 2015. Over a full 162-game season, Cespedes is currently on pace to hit 50 home runs, which would top his career best by 15.

It is important to note that it is incredibly stupid to put too much stock into only 13 games worth of information, only slightly less stupid than declaring a player a bust based on just eight games. But if there is one slightly concerning aspect of Cespedes's great early-season statistics, it is the fact that he is striking out in almost 34% of his plate appearances; about 13 percentage points above his career average.

As Mark Simon points out at ESPN, Cespedes was, as of Tuesday, 1-for-14 against right-handed pitchers in at-bats ending in a breaking ball. That might seem like an obscure stat, but it highlights one of the two major holes in Cespedes's swing: low and outside breaking pitches. Anyone who watches a few games can see that pitchers are looking to exploit this weakness, as well as Cespedes's inability to lay off of high fastballs, and they are often successful. If the 30-year-old cannot adjust to the way that pitchers are now attacking him, his batting average and on-base percentage may start to plummet, especially when his .385 BABIP regresses closer to his .306 career mark.

One positive note, aside from the recent power outburst, is that Cespedes has already walked six times. Last season, it wasn't until May 20 that the he recorded his sixth walk, and his current 10.7 percent walk rate would be a career best.

Thirteen games worth of data is surely not enough for anyone to make a conclusive statement, but Cespedes's approach and how it affects his walk and strikeout rates is certainly worth watching as the season progresses.