Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cespedes Check-In

Cespedes has played well in his Red Sox debut (NESN)
There's not a whole lot of reasons to watch the Red Sox these days, unless you enjoy watching youngsters (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts) cut their teeth in the big leagues, veterans playing out the string and Will Middlebrooks trying to salvage his major league career. Boston's an odd mix of old and young going nowhere fast, hopelessly out of contention and toiling in last place in the AL East.

Yes, the Red Sox title defense has gone horribly astray, especially in the past month or so since Ben Cherington dealt away many of the team's key pieces. There hasn't been a lot to cheer for lately, save one of the club's newest additions: hard-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes has performed as advertised: a tremendous source of righthanded power capable of batting cleanup behind David Ortiz. While the Sox have gone into free-fall mode since his arrival, going 13-18 since August 1st, Cespedes has been wonderful. In his 30 games in a Red Sox uniform Cespedes has hit safely in 24 of them, slashing .288/.306/.475 with a dozen extra base hits and 24 RBI. No Red Sock has more ribbies during that span, confirming Cespedes's status as one of the premier run-producers in the game (his 91 RBI rank fifth in the AL).

The downside is that Cespedes has all but abandoned any sense of plate discipline since coming to Boston, with only three walks in his time here against 26 strikeouts. Over the course of a season such a ratio would incur disastrous results, but thus far it hasn't hindered him. I'm sure the Sox would like to see him be a bit more patient, as his .304 OBP this year and .294 OBP last year fall below the league average, but those figures are certainly playable if Cespedes provides 25 homers and 105 RBI, as he's on pace to do this year.

Besides, Cespedes is one of the few Red Sox playing well at the moment (if it ain't broke...). Maybe his hyper-aggressive approach will prevent him from becoming the elite hitter he was during his rookie year, but at least he's still hitting plenty of homers and driving in truck loads of runs. Perhaps he's nothing more than a flashier Joe Carter, but that's okay. Boston could certainly use a Jim Carter-type these days.

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