In one of probably the most surprising moves in the off-season to many fans, the Detroit Tigers traded Rick Porcello to the Boston Red Sox for outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes. Tiger fans are probably most familiar with Cespedes for our 2012 and 2013 post season battles with the Oakland A’s and his powerful bat during the Home Run Derby in the past two All Star Games.
His back to back wins in the Home Run Derby haven’t necessarily turned into the same consistent power results on the field. Cespedes in three years in the Major Leagues has hit 71 dingers and drove in a total of 262 runs. His career batting average is .263 with a high of .292 his rookie season in 2012. By many means good numbers considering the ever-increasing power of pitching. But are they great numbers?
Some Detroit Tiger fans were scratching their heads as to why we would trade an up and coming stable young arm in our rotation for
an above average at best possible power hitter.
Adding to the doubter’s questions is the fact that Comerica Park’s dimensions are a bit bigger than O.co Coliseum, Cespedes’ home for most of three years. The most noticeable difference that will likely impact Yoenis is down the left field line where there is about 15 feet more room in Comerica at 345 feet. Cespedes’ spray chart provided by Fangraphs supports the fact that he is not a pull hitter and that this could be an issue.
Let’s try to quiet the doubter and provide the top 5 benefits that Cespedes brings to the Detroit Tigers:
1. Cespedes provides additional middle of the lineup depth for the Tigers. His .464 slugging percentage and ability to hit big and drive in runs will add more to the Tigers lineup and make those around him even better. Remember what Prince Fielder did for Miggy? Add Cespedes in the mix of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez and Dombrowski has created a fearful middle that many teams will dread during the year. If he’s batting in front of J.D. Martinez it will give J.D. more looks again as pitchers might pitch around Yoenis to get to him.
In 2014, Cespedes led the American League in 16 outfield assists and has a cannon for an arm.
2. He brings much-needed defensive strength. With the departure of Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, the Tigers needed to be deeper in the outfield. J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis weren’t going to cut it on a daily basis.
3. Cespedes adds an intangible electricity and youthfulness to the Tigers lineup. He has experience in the post season and is truly the Tigers first forray into the Cuban market. Having Cespedes on the team might provide for more Cuban based players to consider the Tigers much like Cabrera has done for Venezuelans on the team.
4. Cespedes is a free agent at the end of the year and wants to win. He’ll be playing to hit big and win big. Picking up a young power hitter in his contract year is another smart move by Dombrowski., ESPN had published an article years ago stating that players out hit their median expectations in their free agent year by nearly 60%. If that is truly true, Cespedes could have a big year wearing the Olde English D in 2015.
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5. The Tigers have been scouting Cespedes for nearly five years when the scouts first saw him play in 2009 in the baseball World Cup of Europe. Dombrowski and his scouts have a knack for picking out talent that will mold and gel together and they couldn’t get him last years because the stakes were too high. Cespedes and the Tigers seem to have a mutual admiration for each other.
Yoenis Cespedes brings a big threat in the middle of the lineup and serves as a hedge for a possible J.D. Martinez sophomore year slump. His bat is more consistent and powerful than Prince Fielder’s bat was and now with the rehab of Victor Martinez this trade looks even more brilliant.
A rocket of an arm and a cannon of a bat is a great and much-needed addition to the Tigers lineup.