Can he get on base?
For those who have seen the movie “Moneyball,” you’re familiar with that question. It’s something Brad Pitt, who plays a much better looking Billy Beane, questions about each potential signee. It’s the guiding principle of his moneyball style of constructing a roster; players with high OBP’s are being undervalued and you can build a winner for cheap by signing these players.
It’s a method that the Red Sox have also adopted, granted with a little more money to spend than the Athletics. Recently, the front office has taken to searching the market for players who will take pitches, work walks and get on base at a high rate. So when Yoenis Cespedes came to Boston in a trade, sporting a .303 OBP, eyebrows were raised and the questions began about his fit in an organization that values getting on base so highly.
Cespedes laughs at your sabermetrics.
OBP certainly has its place as a useful statistic in baseball. It just can’t be used as the end-all be-all for a player, and Cespedes is proof of that.
Anyone who has watched Cespedes in Boston for the past month has seen the value he provides to the Red Sox lineup. He’s smacked four home runs, added 22 RBI and scored 17 runs in 26 games in a Boston uniform. Has anybody noticed, or really cared, that he’s only walked three times and his OBP has actually been lower here than in Oakland (.299 vs. .303)? If anyone does care about that, they shouldn’t.
He passes the eye-test on every level.
People seem to forget about the eye-test. It’s so easy to get caught up in WAR, BABIP and all the other new fancy statistics. But if Cespedes ends up with a .270 average, 30 home runs and over 100 RBI next season, it shouldn’t matter what the rest of the numbers say.
Want proof that you can’t just blindly trust the numbers? Cespedes’ .302 OBP is only .009 points higher than Xander Bogaerts at .293. Anyone with eyes can tell you that Cespedes’ value is much higher than those numbers suggest.
Now is Cespedes more valuable than Jon Lester, the player he was dealt for at the trade deadline? That’s certainly open for debate. But Cespedes is a perfect fit for this Red Sox lineup, even if he doesn’t fit the mold of your typical “moneyball” player.