How good does Yoenis Cespedes project to be in the majors?

14 Comments

Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes is establishing residency in the Dominican Republic so that he can become a free agent and sign with an MLB team for what many people are speculating could be close to $50 million, but how good does the 26-year-old outfielder figure to be in America?

Projecting prospects based on minor-league numbers is tough enough, but projections based on performances in Cuba are even more difficult because the level of competition isn’t as well defined and there aren’t many previous examples of players going from Cuba to America.

With that caveat out of the way, Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus crunched the numbers to see what type of MLB hitter Cespedes will be and projects him as having 25-homer power with batting averages around .250 and poor strikeout-to-walk ratios

Davenport’s lengthy analysis is definitely worth reading, so I won’t spoil the whole thing, but based on the numbers in Cuba he sees Cespedes as being similar to Adam Jones of the Orioles. In other words very good but not quite great, and there are also questions about whether Cespedes can handle center field defensively long term.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.