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Entries in Yoenis Cespedes (5)


HR Derby Preview: Team Cano

Citi Field's Home Run Apple will get a workout tonight, as some of the game's preeminent power hitters aim for the fences during the 2013 All-Star Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN). Team Robinson Cano (including Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder) will take on Team David Wright (Pedro Alvarez, Michael Cuddyer and Bryce Harper). Here's a breakdown of dingers hit by Team Cano as you ponder which tally will be higher -- attendance at Citi Field or the number of "backbackback"s belted out by Chris Berman.

Robinson Cano

Where he hits 'em: Cano has been pull-happy in 2013, hitting 13 of his 21 homers to right field. He has also hit four shots apiece to center and left field.

Cano's HR spray chart


Hard or soft stuff? He's doing most of his damage against "soft" stuff -- breaking and off-speed pitches. Cano has hit seven homers against sliders, tying Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead. He has four HR off curveballs and three on changeups, giving him a total of 14 HR against soft pitches. Only Cabrera and Chris Davis have more homers against sliders, curves and changeups.

HR sweet spot: Despite his tendency to pull the ball, Cano has hit most of his home runs (13) on pitches thrown on the outer half of the plate. He's also loves stuff thrown at the knees, hitting 16 home runs on pitches thrown in the low half of the strike zone.

Pitch location of Cano's HR


Yoenis Cespedes

Where he hits 'em: Cespedes just about never goes oppo (he has just one HR to right field), but he has plenty of power to right field (8 HR) and center (6 HR).

Cespedes' HR spray chart


Hard or soft stuff? Cespedes likes high-velocity stuff, hitting 11 of his homers against fastballs, cutters and splitters.

HR sweet spot: Like Cano, Cespedes hammers knee-high pitches. Twelve of his HR have come on stuff thrown to the lower half of the zone.

Pitch location of Cespedes' HR


Chris Davis

Where he hits 'em: Everywhere. Davis has 14 homers to the pull side, 12 to center, and nine to left field. His next opposite-field shot will make him the first batter to hit double-digit homers to all fields this season, a feat that only Miggy pulled off in 2012.

Davis' HR spray chart


Hard or soft stuff?  It doesn't seem to matter what pitchers throw to Davis, as he leads all hitters with 20 HR against hard pitches and is tied with Cabrera for top honors against soft stuff (15 HR).

HR sweet spot: As you might expect from a slugger with so many opposite-field and center field homers, Davis is crushing pitches thrown to the outer half of the plate. His 24 outer-half HR lead the majors -- and it's not even close. His closest competition, Raul Ibanez, has 18.

Pitch location of Davis' HR


Prince Fielder

Where he hits 'em: While Fielder has yet to go oppo this season, he has 11 homers to the pull side and five to center field.

Fielder's HR spray chart


Hard or soft stuff? He has gone deep nearly an equal amount against hard pitches (9 HR) and soft stuff (7 HR).

HR sweet spot: Unlike Cano and Cespedes, Fielder is a high-ball hitter. Prince has pounded 10 HR against pitches thrown in the upper half of the strike zone.

Pitch location of Fielder's HR


The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes had 23 home runs for the Athletics in 2012.

I just got home from dinner with a friend. Unless I’m on the way to a ballpark, I hardly go out for dinner. Not because of my social anxiety, which I sometimes I exaggerate to get out of having to go to events I don’t want to go to (insert evil laugh), but because I’m vegan. Most people when they hear vegan they conjure up a stereotypical archetype in their head. In most cases it’s either a hippie living near Haight and Ashbury or a young female in a Lifetime movie where the audience learns she's a vegan when she meets her boyfriend’s parents, who are meat and potatoes people, for the first time. Either way, veganism isn’t seen in a positive light.

The first question I’m always asked is some variation of “I hope you’re able to eat here” in a pandering tone. The tone of the question reminds me of intoxicated people at a bar continually asking the sober person why they’re not drinking. Since its Monday, the restaurant was relatively empty, which made my experience more enjoyable. Unless I’m talking baseball, I never know what to say after about ten minutes of conversation. But I was in luck, my friend works in the same industry I used to worked in so we talked about regression and multivariate landing page testing. Pretty interesting stuff right? Now think how much more interesting it would be if you went on a first date with me. I bet it would exceed all your expectations.

Speaking of expectations, to say Yoenis Cespedes surpassed all expectations in his rookie season is an understatement.

Compare out these two heat maps:

Player A is Cespedes and Player B is Ryan Braun.

What made his season more remarkable was his acculturation to the big leagues and to living in the United States. It’s easy to forget he didn’t speak English, had to live in place that was foreign to him and do all this without the help of his support system. The simplest things we take for granted such as ordering a pizza or going to the laundromat were tasks for him. I’m not implying Cespedes did all this on his own; he had Ariel Prieto, former Athletics pitcher from Cuba, as his mentor/interpreter for the entire season.

With only a few weeks of spring training, the Athletics decided to put the best all-around player to come out of Cuba on their final 25 man roster. Other than the jump from high-A to Double A (minor leagues), jumping to the big leagues is the hardest jump in baseball. He had to make adjustments, on the fly, from facing pitchers in the Cuban National Series to exploding breaking stuff in the big leagues. Consequently, Cespedes started off slowly, putting up a slash line of .245/.319/.434 (AVG/OBP/SLG). However, for the rest of the year he posted a slash line of .304/.366/.525. If he maintained his .525 slugging percentage for the entire year he would have ranked 12th in the league, just behind Prince Fielder.

The question for fantasy owners is he legit?

His .326 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was a little higher than average BABIP of .300, implying a regression is coming. However, his plus (above average) speed will allow for him to have a higher BABIP because he’ll be able to leg out hits.

Cespedes has the rare combination of speed and power, leading to comparisons to Bo Jackson. If you don’t know Bo, you should check out him out; he had the best tools (run, throw, hit, power, fielding) of any player I’ve ever seen. By looking at Cespedes’ cold zones it looks as though are no weaknesses in his plate coverage. He has the raw tools be a 30/30 (home run/steals) player and he's being drafted 63rd at Mock Draft Central, which is a tremendous steal. 


ROY or Not, Cespedes a Quick Learner

Ordinarily, Oakland A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would earn Rookie of the Year hardware for his performance during the 2012 season. Cespedes racked up nearly 250 total bases and slugged 23 home runs while transitioning from Cuban baseball (thought to be the equivalent of A-Ball stateside) to the majors. 2012 could hardly be described as an ordinary year, however -- not with a Mickey Mantle-in-training grabbing the nation's attention with each circus-like catch and clout.

While Cespedes lost out to Mike Trout in ROY voting, the new face of Oakland's franchise proved to be a quick study against major league pitching. He started his big league career swinging and missing at Adam Dunn-like levels, but he connected much more frequently as he led the A's to their first playoff appearance since 2006.

At times, Cespedes looked like he came straight from A-Ball during his first month in the majors. His 38% miss rate during April was second-highest among qualified hitters, besting only Dave Kingman doppelganger Mark Reynolds. Cespedes had an especially hard time against low pitches, whiffing 57% of the time that he swung:

Cespedes' contact rate in April

Cespedes logged only 23 plate appearances in May due to a left hand injury. But when he returned in June, he was a much more complete hitter. His 28% overall miss rate matched the MLB average, and he sliced his miss rate on low pitches to 36%:

Cespedes' contact rate in June

He plateaued contact-wise during his monstrous July, missing 28% of pitches overall and a slightly smaller percentage of low stuff than the month before (33%)...

Cespedes' contact rate in July

...Then cut his miss rate down to 22% in August (26% on low pitches):

Cespedes' contact rate in August

Cespedes whiffed slightly more in September (25% overall, and 32% on low pitches), but that was still far below his early season rates:

Cespedes' contact rate in September

Cespedes was a near-automatic out against low pitches prior to his hand injury, coming up empty over half of the time he swung at stuff thrown at the knees and slugging just .333 (about 40 points below the MLB average). From June on, though, Cespedes cut his miss rate to below the league average led the American League with a .563 slugging percentage against low pitches. He went from a liability to lethal in no time, and his counterpunching pitchers so quickly bodes well for his future. Cespedes is no Trout, but he's much more than the one-dimensional slugger some feared he would become.