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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 52 Yoenis Cespedes

When you obtain a player at the trade deadline, you are really rolling the dice, and you are hoping that player can have a tremendous impact on your team as it attempts to make it to the postseason. That was exactly what the Mets got out of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015.

The 2015 season was a turbulent one. The Mets had a number of injuries as it saw an early April lead turn into a deficit in July. The Mets offense couldn’t score runs. There was a failed trade which had Wilmer Flores crying, Zack Wheeler trying to convince the Mets not to trade him, and Carlos Gomez stuck (temporarily) in Milwaukee with previously unknown hip issues. It was a mess which led to the Mets acquiring Cespedes.

After a relatively slow start, one where the Mets had gone atop the division, Cespedes went on an epic tear. From August 3 – August 26, he hit .323/.356/.625 with six doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 21 RBI. From August 3 – September 14, he hit .315/.361/.714 with 10 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, and 42 RBI. Rarely have the Mets had as an exciting and dynamic a player as what Cespedes was during this stretch. It wasn’t just that he was hitting. It was the hits he got.

In terms of that season, what really stood out was his Labor Day series against the Nationals which essentially locked up the division for the Mets. In that three game series, Cespedes was 6-for-14 with three doubles, two homers, and seven RBI. Honestly, you could not ask for more from him or anyone.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t just his bat but his defense as well. He willingly bounced back-and-forth between left and center (winning the AL Gold Glove in left), and he would make a number of highlight reel plays. Those especially showed off his great arm.

When the Mets went to the postseason, Cespedes did not have the same level of impact as he did in the regular season. That said, there were two very important plays which come to mind. The first was in Game 3 of the NLDS when he sent Citi Field into an absolute frenzy with one of the best bat flips in Mets history:

The next moment was in Game 1 of the NLCS. In the fifth inning of that game, the Cubs had already tied the game in the fifth inning on a Starlin Castro RBI double. Two batters later, Javier Baez hit a single to right which normally would have scored a run. Normally . . .

The Mets would win the pennant but lose the World Series. After a long odyssey in the offseason which saw the Mets initially try to replace Cespedes with Alejandro De Aza, Cespedes had turned down a deferred contract from the Washington Nationals to return to the Mets on what was essentially a one year deal. Cespedes earned that deal and then some.

It’s odd to think about, but the 2016 season would prove to be Cespedes only real full season in a Mets uniform. In the beginning, it was all fun with the cars and crazy breakfasts. In that season, he was an All-Star, win a Silver Slugger, and he would finish eighth in MVP voting. He did all that despite it being an injury plagued year where he would get criticism for golfing (even if Kevin Long thought it helped his swing). Despite the criticism, the fact was the Mets were a better team with Cespedes on the field.

Part of the reason was Cespedes came up big when the Mets needed him most. In August, as the Mets made their improbable run towards the top Wild Card, Cespedes was torrid hitting .340/.400/.680 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI. That included a walk-off homer against the Marlins.

That Mets team would charge to the postseason, but sadly, they could not advance past the Wild Card Game. This time, the Mets would not let Cespedes linger or risk him signing with another team. Rather, they locked him up quickly. Unfortunately, it has been two injury plagued years as we discovered Cespedes had a double heel problem which required surgery. Things went from bad to worse when he broke his ankle in a wild boar attack.

However, through all of that, Cespedes was a game changing type of bat. That was no more apparent than his last game before his surgeries. After a lengthy DL stint, the myopic Mets activated Cespedes just for the Subway Series. In the lone game he was able to DH, he was 2-for-5 with two runs, a homer, and an RBI.

The hope now is if the Mets ever play in 2020 Cespedes can be that game-changing bat again whether that be as a DH or back in LF. As it stands now, many hoped for more from him in this last contract, but when all is said and done, he is the sixth best Mets LF by WAR, which is remarkable considering he’s played fewer games as a Met than anyone in the top eight and the second fewest among anyone in the top 12. That speaks to how big his impact has been in a short time and why he’s the best Mets player to ever wear the number 52.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White

 

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