Apparently, the only way Yoenis Céspedes can get a hit now is when it’s way late in a tight game against relievers whose first name starts with the letter “B.”
The Mets slugger has gone two for his last 20, but both of those hits have been game winners, the latest of which was a two-run double in top of the 9th to break a 6-6 tie in Tuesday night’s win over the Marlins.
Despite the heroics, something is clearly off with Céspedes. He had multi-strikeout games in his last six, totaling 14 K's to just one walk over that span. Prior to Tuesday, per Fangraphs, he had struck out a preposterously high 40.5 percent of the time, while slashing an ugly .189/.286/.432. Those are 2018 Giancarlo Stanton-esque numbers, who stands at a 41.7 percent K-rate after his abysmal start.
Céspedes has never finished a season with a K-rate higher than 23.9, so that inflated number is bound to come down, but a rise in his swings at balls outside of the zone is concerning. In 2018, he has chased pitches out of the zone 39.4 percent of the time, while his career average is 36.2, per FanGraphs. There are a handful of likely causes for this:
It’s probably a mix of 2 through 4, which is causing 3. Combine that with the official phrase of April baseball, “Small sample size,” and that's likely the reason behind Yo's slow start.
Should we all panic? Probably not, especially while the team is off to its best start in franchise history and everyone else in the lineup is contributing. But his uptick in strikeouts is something worth monitoring. His swing is definitely a little off right now, but this kind of stuff happens from time to time, and it’s almost certainly fixable.
And consider this: If the Mets are winning without Céspedes at his best, what are they capable of when he is?