I don’t think I can ever recall a time when I was even remotely excited that an Athletics player finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting. But it’s safe to say this year is different. Everybody and their mother knew Mike Trout was going to win the award, and it would’ve been a crime against humanity honestly if he hadn’t. It was unanimous, and I can’t even say I disagree with that either. The good news in all of this was the fact that Yoenis Cespedes did finish 2nd in the voting ahead of Yu Darvish, and it’s true there are no real moral victories in sports but if there were this would be one. Trout is a phenomenal player doing amazing things at such a young age that it’s almost like he wins a special award and Cespedes get the award for all the “normal” rookies.
Thing is, Cespedes is far from a normal rookie himself. Entering the league at 26, it’s unusual to have a player his age in the running for this award. Normally someone making his debut at this age would have been a former top prospect who struggled in the high minors, someone just now getting their big break and are proving themselves to be late bloomers. Cespedes of course came from the Cuban national team, where he excelled in many international tournaments and Cuban league games.
While Cespedes was far from a known quantity when the Athletics signed him to the 4 year, $36 million contract, his potential was very enticing. He has not reached that potential, but his 2012 scratched the surface of what he’s capable of doing. As we look back at his 2012, we also look forward to his 2013. Expectations will be for him to stay healthy, and improve upon his numbers from 2012. He is a leader for the Athletics, and a force in their lineup, and the success of the Athletics now and going forward is directly tied to his production on the field.
Of all the young talent Billy Beane assembled last offseason, Yoenis Cespedes is by far the most exciting. He has true MVP caliber talent, and in 2013 we may catch an even greater glimpse of what that can look like.