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« Ivan Nova Versus Lefties | Main | Aroldis Chapman on Target »
Monday
Apr162012

Yoenis Cespedes: Three True Outcomes Star

While the Oakland A's are again scrounging for runs, ABs from Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes are quickly turning into must-see MLB.TV. Already a YouTube sensation, Cespedes has been a Three True Outcomes star in April. The center fielder has three towering homers and a 4-to-15 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 40 plate appearances, giving him a 55 Three True Outcomes percentage.

When the A's signed Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal, many scouting types praised the 26-year-old's power but worried that pitchers would exploit his wide strike zone. While Cespedes' thump and three hit by pitches have helped him produce a 143 OPS+ so far, he is chasing -- and whiffing -- at alarming rates.

Pitchers have thrown Cespedes a strike just 37% of the time in 2012. That's tied with Josh Hamilton for fourth-lowest among batters and way below the 48% league average. The most frequent location of those out-of-zone pitches is in on the hands:

Pitch location vs. Cespedes in 2012

Cespedes has gone after plenty of those pitches off the plate, with a 37% chase rate that places him in the top 25 among hitters (the league average is 27-28%). Most of Cespedes' chases are on those aforementioned inside offerings:

Cespedes' swing rate by pitch location, 2012

When Cespedes isn't hitting epic home runs (his three shots have gone 413, 464 and 423 feet, respectively), he's generating enough wind to power the entire West Coast. He has missed 42% of the pitches he has swung at, nearly doubling the MLB average and trailing only fellow TTO colleague Mark Reynolds among all batters.

Though it's difficult to infer much from 10 contests, Cespedes' game has shown immense strengths and weaknesses so far. He might be able to reach the Athletics' hoped-for home in San Jose from his current digs, but his plate approach needs serious tweaking. For ever Vladimir Guerrero who can succeed while swinging at everything, there are 100 Wily Mo Penas who can't.

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