Céspedes with the New York Mets
|New York Mets – No. 52|
October 18, 1985 |
Campechuela, Granma Province, Cuba
|March 28, 2012 for the Oakland Athletics|
(through September 26, 2015)
|Runs batted in||367|
|Career highlights and awards|
Céspedes batting for the Cuba national team in 2010 World University Championship
|Competitor for Cuba|
|Baseball World Cup|
|Pan American Games|
|2007 Rio de Janeiro||Team|
|World University Baseball Championship|
Yoenis Céspedes Milanés (born October 18, 1985) is a Cuban professional baseball outfielder for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers. Before joining the Major Leagues, he played in the Cuban National Series and was a member of the Cuba national baseball team. He won the 2013 and 2014 Home Run Derby. While primarily a left fielder throughout his career, he has split between left and center field while with the Mets.
Céspedes is the son of Estela Milanés, a softball pitcher who appeared in the 2000 Summer Olympics for Cuba, and Cresencio Céspedes, a former Cuban League catcher who separated from Milanés when Yoenis was one year old. At age 10, as his talent became more apparent, he was sent by his mother to a state-run school where he could focus on baseball.
Céspedes debuted in the Cuban National Series with Granma during the 2003–04 Cuban National Series, hitting .302/.382/.503 (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage). He was considered for the Cuban National Series Rookie of the Year Award, but lost out to Frank Montieth.
He batted .313/.403/.540 in the 2004–05 season. In the 2005–06 season, he hit .351/.444/.649 with 23 home runs, 89 runs and 78 runs batted in (RBI) in 88 games played. He tied Yulieski Gourriel for the National Series lead in runs and was four home runs behind Gourriel for the lead, placing second. He tied for seventh in doubles (24), was second in total bases (220, 6 behind Gourriel) and was 4th in slugging. He hit .481/.481/.741 for Cuba in the 2006 Haarlem Baseball Week.
He produced at a .303/.402/.541 rate in the 2006–2007 season with 17 home runs and 79 runs in 89 games. He again led in runs. He was also fifth in doubles (24), tied Yosvani Peraza for third in home runs, was fourth in total bases (184), tied Alfredo Despaigne for 4th in RBI, tied for 4th in steals (15) and was sixth in slugging. He was 1 for 7 with a steal and a run in the 2007 Pan-American Games in his debut for the Cuban national team.
He hit .284/.342/.552 in the 2007–08 season. He was among the league leaders in RBI (tying teammate Despaigne for third with 78), tied Urgellés for fourth in runs (82), was second in home runs (26, trailing only Alexei Bell) and fourth in 202 total bases.
He was the starting center fielder for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He hit .458/.480/1.000 with a double, 3 triples, 2 home runs, five runs and five RBI in six games. He led Cuba in slugging and was second to Frederich Cepeda in average, OBP and OPS. He tied Cepeda and Yulieski Gourriel for the team lead in runs and tied Gourriel for second in homers, behind Cepeda. He broke a 1–1 tie against Australia with a 6th-inning solo homer off Damian Moss and started a 16–4 romp over Mexico with a leadoff triple against Pablo Ortega. Céspedes tripled off Hisashi Iwakuma in Cuba's last game of the tournament, a 5–0 loss to Japan, but did not score. Earlier in that game, he dropped a fly from Michihiro Ogasawara to let the first two Japanese runs score. Cuba thus missed the final four of an event for the first time ever; the Cuban team had also made the finals of every global baseball competition since 1959.
Céspedes batted .323/.411/.601 in the 2008–2009 season with 24 homers and 83 runs in 87 games. He tied Leonys Martín for 4th in the league in runs and tied Rolando Meriño for third in home runs (trailing Alfredo Despaigne and Joan Carlos Pedroso). He was 7th in total bases (197), 9th in RBI (76) and 10th in slugging. He made the All-Star outfield alongside Giorvis Duvergel and Despaigne.
He started the 2009 Baseball World Cup as Cuba's starting center fielder, but struggled and only hit .194/.275/.333 while being caught in his only steal attempt; Martín replaced him as the event went along. In the gold medal game, Céspedes pinch-hit for Yorbis Borroto successfully with a 9th-inning single off Brad Lincoln in Cuba's 10–5 loss to Team USA, settling for a silver medal.
He hit .345/.426/.617 in the 2009–2010 season with 87 runs and 22 homers in 87 contests. He was third in the league in runs (3 behind leader Yulieski Gourriel), 10th in hits (118), 8th in home runs, 4th in total bases (211, behind Alfredo Despaigne, Gourriel and José Dariel Abreu) and was 9th in slugging. He was not picked as an All-Star outfielder as Despaigne, Cepeda and Bell took the three slots.
He went 11 for 22 with 12 runs, 14 RBI, two doubles and four homers in six games at the 2010 World University Baseball Championship. He drove in six against South Korea and five against China. In the gold medal game, he was 0 for 4 with a strikeout as Cuba's fifth batter in a 4–3 win over Team USA. He made the tournament All-Star outfield alongside Mikie Mahtook and Shota Ishimine. He played for Cuba when it finished second in the 2011 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament. In the 2010 Intercontinental Cup, he was 3 for 10 with a double, three runs, four RBI and a walk as a backup. In the 4–1 win over the Dutch national team in the Gold Medal game, he was the second of three left fielders Cuba used. He replaced Yoandry Urgellés, was retired by Berry van Driel and then replaced by Despaigne.
He put up a .333/.424/.667 batting line with 89 runs, 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games in the 2010–2011 season. He led the league in runs (five ahead of Cepeda), tied Abreu for the home run lead (breaking Despaigne's league record by one), tied Cepeda for the most total bases (236), tied Ramon Tamayo for 7th in steals (11 in 14 tries), led in RBI (6 ahead of Abreu) and finished 5th in slugging. He was named the All-Star center fielder, joining Despaigne and Cepeda in the outfield.
Major League Baseball
Céspedes defected from Cuba in the summer of 2011, landing in the Dominican Republic with ten of his family members. In a 2015 interview with The New York Post, Cespedes said that he and his family's journey to the Dominican Republic was via speedboat and took about 23 hours. He established residency in the country in January 2012, bypassing the MLB draft and becoming an unrestricted free agent. Céspedes was considered a five-tool outfielder going into free agency. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus declared Céspedes "arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation."
After interest from numerous Major League teams, Cespedes agreed to a 4-year, $36 million contract with the Oakland Athletics on February 13, 2012, with the deal becoming official the following month.
Cespedes began the 2012 season for the A's at his usual position of center field, but was later moved to left field upon the return of veteran center fielder Coco Crisp. On March 28, in his major league debut, he went 1 for 3, and was also hit by a pitch. The following day, he hit his first major league home run, a 2-run shot off of Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Shawn Kelley. Cespedes had hit his first walk-off home run on June 21 against the Los Angeles Dodgers with the final score of 4–1, resulting in a three game sweep. The Athletics would go on to win the American League West, with Céspedes batting .316 with a .381 OBP in the postseason.
On July 15, 2013, Céspedes won the 2013 Home Run Derby. A last-minute addition by team captain Robinson Cano to represent the American League squad, he hit 32 home runs total in the exhibition, including 17 in the first round. He defeated the National League's Bryce Harper in the final round by hitting 9 home runs, with five swings to spare. He was the first winner of the contest who had not been selected to that year's All-Star game. Cespedes hit .240 for the year and had 26 home runs along with 80 RBI's. Though Cèspedes had a great postseason, the A's were eliminated by the Detroit Tigers. Céspedes suffered several injuries throughout the season, including wrist, hamstring, and knee injuries.
Céspedes had a great start to the season, hitting .273 with 14 homers and 55 RBIs through July 1, and was 3rd in the All-Star Voting for the AL behind Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Immediately Céspedes was noticed for throwing out runners. After getting 3 putouts against the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, Céspedes gunned down Chris Iannetta and Kole Calhoun at home plate in the same inning in a game against the Angels on May 31. He would have an even more memorable throw, again against the Angels, when he threw out Howie Kendrick at home on June 10. Céspedes bobbled a hit off of the bat of Mike Trout, causing Kendrick to attempt to run home. Céspedes corralled the ball and fired a 300 foot throw on the fly to nail Kendrick at the plate. He would once again terrorize Angel baserunners as he threw out Albert Pujols trying to advance to third when the ball got by Céspedes in the next game. This put Céspedes at 11 outfield assists on the season, which led the league.
On July 1, Céspedes suffered a hamstring injury while running against the Tigers on a RBI hit by Brandon Moss. Céspedes along with 5 other A's players (Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, and pitchers Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle) were chosen to play in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game in Target Field. In the final week of fan voting to select starters for the All Star Game, he was passed by Adam Jones. On July 14, 2014, Céspedes won the Home Run Derby for a second time, becoming the first player to win consecutive Home Run Derby titles since Ken Griffey Jr. accomplished that feat in 1999. Céspedes played in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game where he went 0 for 2.
Boston Red Sox
On July 31, 2014, Céspedes was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Jon Lester and utility player Jonny Gomes. Cespedes hit his first home run as a member of the Boston Red Sox on August 10, 2014 against the Los Angeles Angels, with a 3-run home run. Céspedes ended the season with a .260 batting average with 22 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI.
On December 11, 2014, the Red Sox traded Céspedes along with Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. Céspedes played his first game with the Tigers during opening day against the Minnesota Twins on April 6, 2015, where he robbed Kurt Suzuki of a home run, leading to a 4-0 victory for the Tigers. Through June 13, Cespedes was hitting .308 with 9 home runs and 33 runs batted in. He was not selected as an All Star but was put in as a player on the All Star Final Vote. Therefore, he could not compete in the home run derby after winning the two previous years.
New York Mets
On July 31, 2015, Céspedes was traded to the New York Mets for minor league pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. On August 21, Céspedes went 5 for 6 against the Colorado Rockies, hitting 3 home runs in a game for the first time. Céspedes finished a triple shy of the cycle. In his first 41 games with the Mets, Céspedes exploded, posting a .309 batting average, 17 home runs, 42 RBI's, and a .691 slugging percentage. His offensive explosion helped the Mets jump up to a 9.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals in the National League East as of September 14th. Because of his efforts, Céspedes was awarded the NL Player of the Week Award for September 7th to the 13th. He batted .345, hit 4 home runs, scored 6 runs, and drove 12 RBI while posting a 1.263 OPS.
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