Yoenis or No-enis?

On Monday night I took part in a 15-team mock draft for a fantasy sports site to be named later, and while I cannot divulge the results of the draft, as they will be using it for their draft kit, I can talk about one particular dilemma I had when it was time for my pick in the third round. The draft was set up for a two-catcher league with five outfielders, nine pitchers and all the other standard stuff as far as a middle infielder, corner infielder, utility, etc. I had the third pick which I absolutely hated, but made the best of it as best I could. However, when it came to the third round for me — the 33rd pick of the draft — there I was, staring at a personal favorite of mine who let me down last season but also someone in whom I still believe. Dare I make that pick again? Do I take that chance? Am I even taking a chance? Is this pick too high for him? These are the questions that ran through my mind when I said to myself, “Yoenis or No-enis?”

I was a big fan of Yoenis Cespedes from when I first saw footage of him playing in Cuba and when The Showcase was coming States-side, I was over the moon with excitement. He was this barrel-chested, beast-like terror at the plate who threatened with both power and speed and someone whose skills I thought would definitely translate to the major leagues. The video, if you just clicked on it, certainly added to the hype which I feared would increase his fantasy cost, but I also found that it was met with a lot of skepticism due to some of its ridiculousness. Hoping that the voice of the skeptics would drown out those of the supporters, I went after him in my primary keeper league with a low bid (blind-bid auction draft). When I was awarded him, I felt like I had a very strong keeper for a very long time.

That first year was deemed a success for Cespedes, though in truth, I thought the numbers could have been a bit better. But the minor dings and dents got the better of him and he missed 33 games with a variety of injuries, including injuries to his hand, thumb and wrist, all of which took their toll on his ability to swing the bat. Still, a .292 average with 23 home runs and 16 stolen bases in an injury-riddled season left me with a good feeling that, in a season with full-health, a 30-30 year was easily on the horizon.

I took that good feeling into the following season and even put it down “on paper” when I made Cespedes’ impending 30-30 year one of my 10 Bold Predictions. Perhaps the 30 steals was a bit of a reach, but hey…go bold or go home, right? It’s not like the guy didn’t have the talent to deliver. Maybe there was a bit more gut feeling than actual number-crunching happening, but getting the opportunity to watch him live on numerous occasions, allowed me to follow my gut.

Unfortunately though, things failed to pan out the way I had hoped. The injury bug continuously found its way back to Cespedes’ body, the strikeouts increased, the walks decreased and while he was being more aggressive at the plate and swinging at a higher rate, he made just about the same amount of contact the year before with a higher rate outside the zone and a lower rate inside. That resulted in an increase to his SwStr% and a substantially lower BABIP. He still popped 26 home runs, so the power didn’t drop off, but he also hit just .240 on the year with a dismal .294 on-base percentage. You’re certainly not going to steal 30 bases with an OBP that low; not unless you have the speed and know-how of a Ricky Henderson.

So overall, the follow-up year was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, I may or may not have won an 8:1 Vegas bet on the Home Run Derby and I did, in fact, win my primary keeper league last season, but the dilemma of whether or not to stick with Cespedes looms. Do I have to assume that the injury bug has found a way to nest inside his body? Should I only expect a maximum of 140 games? What about his ability to improve that plate discipline? It certainly didn’t get better as the season progressed. In fact, it only got worse — a 2.2-percent walk rate in September? Ugh!

Unfortunately, we have just two years worth of major league data, so spotting major trends isn’t exactly a possibility right now. I have to go with my gut once again it seems, and my gut is saying to stick with him. Yes, the injuries are going to be a regular occurrence. That’s just his style of play and perhaps a bit of a weak bone structure. But the talent is definitely still there. The power is most definitely still there. The plate discipline can and will improve. Will he ever reach that 30-stolen base plateau? Probably not. But I’ll be more than happy with a 30-20 season that comes along with a .280 average. Again, just the gut talking here, but if you saw my physique, you’d know that the gut speaks with a very loud and booming voice.



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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


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Andrew A
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Andrew A

standard roto auction league with $260 budget, how much do you think his value is? $20?

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