Whither Yoenis Cespedes?

I almost wish I played in a league where Box Jump and Leg Press were scoring categories, because at least then I would know where to draft Yoenis Cespedes. There’s surely more to the Cuban import than just what he showed in his YouTube video that went viral earlier this offseason, but exactly whether he’ll be able to translate his physical prowess into practical production is still very much an open debate.

ZiPS has him hitting .265/.329/.418 with 21 HR and 9 SB, very similar to Alex Rodriguez (.264/.350/.474 with 21 HR and 7 SB), Adam Jones (.278/.322/.447 with 22 HR and 11 SB), and Torii Hunter (.261/.329/.431 with 20 HR and 9 SB). Rodriguez is going by far the earliest of the bunch at 59 according to ESPN, though name recognition and positional issues certainly play into that. Jones falls to 84th overall and 19th among outfielders, while Hunter lands at 147. Cespedes has an ADP of 201, placing him between Colby Rasmus and Alfonso Soriano, but I wonder how accurate that is.

ADP is far more useful for players who consistently fall in the same area. B.J. Upton’s ADP of 80 tells me that if I want him, I’ll need to have taken him in or before the 7th round of most drafts; there are obviously drafts that constitute outliers, but I doubt he’s available after the 10th of even the oddest draft. With Cespedes, I don’t think there is really that same point, the point at which you know he could be taken at any moment. The earliest I’ve seen Cespedes go was 126th in a 14-team mixed redraft, and while the owner admitted to reaching, no one openly criticized the move — unlike the pick of Delmon Young in the late 7th round of that same draft, which yielded some scoffing.

Having solicited responses on twitter and around the Fangraphs staff of where Cespedes was going in normal leagues — 5X5 or 6X6 redrafts or leagues with a small number of keepers — I got a wide span of answers: 126, 137, 148, 191, 203, 206, 228, and 234. He also went for $15 in an AL-only auction and 99th in an AL-only snake. Certainly, players rise and fall with the idiosyncrasies of the specific league and draft, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player with a draft span of 100 picks or more.

I’m confident that I’d rather have Cespedes anywhere deeper than pick 150 than Hunter earlier than 150, but there are still so many questions surrounding him. His new home park is going to hurt his power numbers. Clay Davenport grades the Cuban league as comparable to Low-A here in the states, and also notes that Cespedes’ former home park was the most hitter-friendly park in the league, that’s just not so with O.Co. Switching leagues will hurt his production, the increased competition will hurt his production, and yet he brings enough potential to the table that I want him on my teams, I just don’t want to be out my 10th round pick or higher if he busts this season.

There is always some volatility with rookies, even if they follow a relatively normal development track, and Cespedes just has an exaggerated version of that uncertainty. I think the best course of action is to decide if you want him at all and work from there. If you’d rather pass on the risk, that’s fine, don’t worry about where he goes — or do, and leave it in the comments for more data points on his actual draft position. If you are interested in him, it seems more useful to me to think of his ADP as 150 rather than 200. Anything above 150 is a definite reach, but at any point after 150, someone could get grabby and snap him up. For my part, I’ll still be targeting him closer to 200 than 150, but if he’s sitting there in the 170s or 180s and makes sense, I won’t feel too bad about making a reach to grab him.




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Dan enjoys black tea, imperial IPAs, and any competition that can be loosely judged a sport. Follow him on Twitter.


25 Responses to “Whither Yoenis Cespedes?”

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  1. Scott Clarkson says:

    I just took Cespedes w/ the 3rd pick in the first round of my 20-team keep-35 prospect draft (5 rounds to fill our 40-man rosters).

    This draft comprised 2011 draftees, IFA’s and any unrostered milb/MLB players (except Bauer who ESPN stupidly added to the player pool last year).

    Darvish and Cole went ahead of my pick.

    My team is a strong contender w/ a young MLB core already: can you blame me for taking Cespedes over Rendon, Bundy, Lindor, Hultzen, Starling etc.?

    He went 9th in the first round of the prospect draft in another 20-team league that I play in after: Darvish, Bauer, Rendon, Cole, Starling, Hultzen, Lindor, Bundy

    I would be interested to see how other managers are treating Yoenis in similar formats where he can be drafted along w/ the 2011 draftees and Darvish.

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    • smcfee says:

      He went 6th in my league: Rendon, Starling, Darvish, Bauer, Cole, then him.

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    • Dan Wade says:

      He’ll certainly help your team earlier than any of those guys. Hultzen will probably be up at some point this year, but the others almost certainly won’t. Hard to know who will have the best career; those are all really top prospects, but Cespedes’ proximity to the majors — you know, since he’s in them — is certainly a huge mark in his favor.

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    • jim says:

      that is the most ridiculous league ever

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    • bobby bal says:

      How do I become part of a league with Keeper Prospects? What website do you use

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    • bobby bal says:

      How do I become part of a league with Keeper Prospects? What website do you use

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bobby bal says:

      How do I become part of a league with Keeper Prospects? What website do you use

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bobby bal says:

      How do I become part of a league with Keeper Prospects? What website do you use

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  2. Kris Kennedy says:

    Had a draft in mid March and one guy reached extremely early and took Cespedes in Round 3. I think everyone was shocked even with him coming off his 1st spring game, where he hit a homer, this was 7 rounds too early in my mind. Cespedes price ran to 9 bucks

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  3. Kris Kennedy says:

    My previous comment was referencing 2 seperate drafts, one was a standard snake, the other was auction where Cespedes went for 9 bucks and in the standard snake Cespedes went in the early 3rd round

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  4. Scott Clarkson says:

    Cespedes went for $8 in my 20-team 40-man roster auction league that has has $120 salary caps.

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  5. Sean Eaton says:

    In my 10 team, 14 keeper league I took Cespedes with my first pick, 149th overall. The reason was because I already have Justin Upton and Jay Bruce, and Mike Trout when he gets called up, so there really wasn’t going to be room for long term improvement unless I picked a high upside guy. He has the physical makeup to be a superstar and if someone were to put up a line of .333/.424/.667 with 33 homers in 90 games in low-A ball, heads are legitimately going to turn. He may take a while to become a solid fantasy contributor, he may not become one at all. But given his upside and who I have to pick up the slack if things don’t work out, it was worth the risk.

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    • dasox313 says:

      I agree with this. He has the makings of a super player, but the age is what makes people a little sour. Unless he fully shows his potential this year or next, he is an over payed cuban who might be even older than what he says.

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  6. Eminor3rd says:

    I snatched him for $15 in my first-year $400 Ottoneu league. My OF was shallow (and I now think that OF is shallower than many people suspect anyway in 5 OF leagues), but I still get kind of uncomfortable with it sometimes. I consider it an upside play that could turn into a fantastic keeper as soon as immediately or a non-crippling but slightly painful bust.

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  7. Nate says:

    I drafted him 120th overall in my “Hitter’s Only” Roto league. Picked between Adam Lind and Jhonny Peralta.
    Process that data point.

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  8. n m smith says:

    I play in a deep keeper league where the keeper rules reference service time (you can keep any players with 6 years service time) and I took him at the end of the third round. Given how many players are kept, it’s hard to have intuitions about when that is, but here’s the six players taken around him.
    3.12 Aramis Ramirez
    3.11 Anthony Rendon
    3.10 Yoenis Cespedes
    3.09 Shane Victorino
    3.08 David Ortiz
    3.07 Adam Wainwright

    I took some criticism for taking him too soon, given that I currently have a very good team and I could’ve taken Paul Konerko instead, but I was kind of surprised he lasted to that pick.

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    • n m smith says:

      Sorry, apparently greater-than and less-than symbols are no good in this context. In that league, you can keep anyone with less than 6 years service time on Opening Day, and one player with greater than 6 years service time.

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      • MDL says:

        I’m contributing nothing to your post, I’m just seeing if greater-than and less-than symbols show up as HTML (“& lt;” / “& gt;” with no spaces). If nothing nothing shows up below this line, the test failed:
        <
        >

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  9. Pops says:

    I happily landed Cespedes with pick 252 in a ten team keeper with deep benches. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about him going into the draft… I certainly wasn’t going to reach for him. I have no problem taking a shot on a player with tremendous raw talent, especially in a keeper format.

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  10. Bill says:

    I got him for $4 in my 12-team 6×6 daily rotisserie league ($260 draft budget). I have him slotted in at UTIL. I had no idea what to think about him going into it but I figure that’s worth the risk. He’s really the only reason to watch these two non-event games in Japan.

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  11. DC says:

    12 team mixed 6×5 H2H – 40 bones through Paypal… Draft is at 8:30 PST email or respond if interested

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  12. Kyle says:

    Adam Jones hit 25 Hr last year…

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  13. Jim M. says:

    Guess the mention of Cespedes and Hunter interests me a bit. Grabbed Cespedes in the 7th round (pick 139) of a 20 team mixed league last night and Hunter three rounds later (pick 182). It’s a 6X6 with OBP instead of average… slugging as the sixth category for hitters… holds for pitchers.

    I felt I was reaching a bit on Cespedes. I figure he would have been there at 142 if I’d left him one more turn, but I was pretty sure he’d be gone by pick 179. I figure Hunter gives me safe value at 182, but I didn’t even really consider him at the point when I took Cespedes.

    As for the accuracy of Cespedes going right after Colby Rasmus and right before Alfonso Soriano……

    Rasmus was taken on the turn at Pick 140 right behind Cespedes. Soriano went well later at pick #221. Of course, Soriano’s value takes a bit of a hit in the format. Adam Jones (the other ZiPS comparable you mention) went in the sixth round (pick #105).

    Guys that went around Cespedes (5 each way):

    134. Logan Morrison
    135. Brandon Beachy
    136. Dee Gordon
    137. Jordan Walden
    138. J.J. Hardy

    140. Colby Rasmus
    141. Hiroki Kuroda
    142. Mat Latos
    143. Josh Beckett
    144. Jason Kipnis

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  14. Mat says:

    And boom goes the dynamite….

    Bot 7th: Oakland
    - Y. Cespedes homered to deep left center, K. Suzuki scored

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