It’s unlikely there’s nothing more concerning to Oakland Athletics fans days away from the start of the 2014 season than the slumping Yoenis Cespedes.
After his Friday night performance of going 0 for 3 against the Giants with three strikeouts, Cespedes looks lost at the plate continuing his slump from the last half of 2013. At his point he has more K’s than the entire Kardashian family’s jewelry.
The guy who smashed 32 home runs to win Home Run Derby during the All-Star break last season has experienced a mammoth decline, producing a mere 11 home runs in his final 222 at-bats of the 2013 season and a glaring goose-egg for dingers this spring.
The third-year leftfielder who defected from Cuba that hit .292 in his rookie season, which resulted in a second-place finish for Rookie of the Year behind the Angels’ Mike Trout, reported that he was cutting his swing down this spring to try to make more contact. This experiment obviously isn’t working as his spring training offensive production as of Saturday are at imposing sub-Mendoza line levels of a .130 BA with only two extra-base hits—both doubles—of his meager and distressing seven total hits.
Cespedes has had plenty of chances this spring to get into form. His 46 at bats in 16 games so far are the third highest on the club.
The Athletics understand that when their most awesome hitter is producing he has the ability to be a game-changer.
The team’s win-loss record with Cespedes in the lineup in 2012 was 82-47 compared to 12-21 sans Yoenis. In 2012, the A’s season-high nine-game losing streak, eighth games, came with Cespedes on the disabled list.
Last year, Cespedes had added pressure to carry more of the offensive load with a slumping and twice injured Josh Reddick. As a result he was pulling more balls and selling out for power finishing with a .240 BA. He still was able to give the A’s a winning record of 73-47 in contrast to 23-19 without him.
A’s hitting coach Chili Davis and Cespedes have a long road ahead of them to bring Cespedes’ bat back up to 2012 and early 2013 levels. He’s slated to bat 4th in the lineup and should get more opportunities but if he struggles, it’ll result in LOBs over RBIs.
Come March 31, Cespedes will have to show fans if he’s the guy that can hit .292 as he did in 2012 avoiding the stigma of a second-coming of Joe Charboneau.
One thing is evident; what’s up with Yoenis certainly isn’t his offensive production this spring.