When the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics on this year’s trade deadline, they had plans to add a power outfielder to the middle of the lineup and strengthen the lineup for the 2015 season. And even with the Red Sox out of the race this season, Cespedes has certainly made a positive impression in his first two weeks in Boston.
First and foremost, his right-handed power is a major asset to a Red Sox team whose power has been severely lacking throughout this season, their .369 slugging percentage currently ranking 27th in baseball. Cespedes is currently slashing .253/.297/.463 in 114 games between the A’s and Red Sox, giving him the second-best slugging percentage among qualified Red Sox in addition to the third-best OPS on the team. And despite his batting average and on-base percentage falling off since joining the Red Sox (he is hitting .237/.250/.441 in 13 games), that lack of success in the contact department just a case of small sample size and his prodigious right-handed power is definitely still a part of Cespedes’s game as his .204 isolated power in those 13 games is nothing to scoff at.
However, Cespedes’s impact goes beyond simply adding another power bat to the lineup, although that’s obviously a large portion of what he brings to the Red Sox. Despite his relatively mediocre statistics since coming to Boston, he brings something else that not many other Red Sox players have displayed this season: he’s fun to watch.
After all, this has been a decidedly depressing season for Red Sox fans. Not only has the team’s on-field performance suffered, there’s also the fact that fan favorites such as Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are having down years at the plate; Jon Lester, the Red Sox ace and clutch post-season performer, saw his contract extension negotiations drawn out to the point where he was traded to the A’s (although the Red Sox did receive Cespedes, so it’s obviously not all bad); even for prospect-watchers like myself, none of the prospects that the Red Sox have promoted this season have really established themselves at the Major League level. While Jackie Bradley Jr. continually makes highlight-reel plays in center field, he hasn’t hit enough to be considered a reliable starter; Xander Bogaerts looked promising for the first two months of the season before falling off a cliff in June; plus, new top prospect Mookie Betts hasn’t played enough to get an accurate view on his potential despite tearing the upper minors apart.
With Cespedes, however, the Red Sox have a bona fide starter who is also a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
From his game-winning home runs in Anaheim and Cincinnati to last night’s improbable grab near foul territory in left field, Cespedes brings excitement back to Boston. We’re yet to see any unreal throws but he’s still on track to become a fan favorite in Boston after just two weeks. And considering how much of an impact Cespedes has already had, just imagine how he’ll be viewed when he turns around his slow start at the plate. The Red Sox knew what they were doing by acquiring Cespedes and it goes beyond the numbers.