Is Yoenis Cespedes The Most Underrated Player in Baseball?

Yoenis Cespedes has been traded three times in a little over a year, spending time with the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and New York Mets in that span. You would think that this would signal that Cespedes is not that good, if teams are willing to trade him so quickly.

Thinking this would be a mistake on your part, just like it was a mistake for the Athletics to ship Cespedes to the Red Sox last season for two months of Jon Lester. Or just like it was a mistake for the Red Sox to trade Cespedes to the Tigers for Rick Porcello. Or just like it was a mistake for the Tigers to trade Cespedes to the Mets for two prospects, although the Tigers’ return was much better than the Athletics’ or Red Sox’ return.

Just look at what Cespedes has been traded for if you question his value — an ace in Lester, a pitcher in Porcello who was highly valued by Boston, and a great package of prospects. The A’s traded Cespedes because they did not think they could sign him long term. Same goes for the Red Sox. The Tigers are rebuilding — “rebooting,” pardon me — and need the prospects. None of these teams traded Cespedes because they were unhappy with his performance.

The Mets and their fan base are currently enjoying Cespedes’s greatness, as he has helped turn them into the 1927 Yankees. Despite feeling like a nomad, Cespedes has continued to do what he does best: dominate the majors. In twenty-three games since joining the Mets, Cespedes has done nothing but hit. He has seven home runs, twenty-one RBIs, and is batting .311 in that time span. Oh, and he has also been spectacular in the field, showing off that laser of an arm he has.

Cespedes has not just dominated over this three-week stretch. According to FanGraphs, he has the sixth-highest WAR among all position players and third-highest among all outfielders. On top of this, Cespedes has the eighth-highest defensive WAR and fourth-highest defensive WAR among all major league outfielders. Since coming over from Cuba in 2012, Cespedes has compiled the 28th-highest WAR in baseball.

Cespedes also seems to be able to handle the pressure well, batting .381 in ten postseason games. With the Mets positioned to make the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, there will certainly be a ton of pressure put on Cespedes’s shoulders. Will he be able to carry the Mets all the way to the playoffs and deep into October? The way it’s going now, the answer certainly appears to be a resounding yes.

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