Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yoenis Céspedes vs. Other Mets in Their First 162 Games

Yoenis Cespedes's 162-game start gets a big thumbs up!  (Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Yoenis Céspedes has meant everything to the Mets since he was acquired at the trade deadline last July.  But because of nagging injuries and a trip to the disabled list earlier this season, Céspedes didn't get to play in his 162nd career game with the team until Wednesday, as he has missed 28 games during the 2016 campaign after resting for only two games with the Mets in 2015, both of which came after the team had clinched the division title.

Céspedes's numbers with the team in those 162 games are astounding, as he has produced 34 doubles, 44 homers, 112 RBI and has compiled a .583 slugging percentage and .941 OPS in a full season's worth of games.  Those five categories are traditionally recognized as categories in which sluggers generally excel, and Céspedes ranks favorably with the team's all-time greats in all five.

In doing research for hot starts by Mets players to see where Céspedes ranked, I found some interesting names that I did not expect to find among those franchise legends.  For every time Mike Piazza was in the top ten - he's the only player to be ranked in the top five in all five categories within his first 162 games with the team - there were a handful of "did they really have that type of start?" players.

Here are five lists, one each for doubles, home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage, that show just how good Céspedes has been in his first 162 games with the Mets and how fortunate some other players were in their first full season's worth of contests with the club.


Bernard Gilkey
Mike Piazza - 46
Bernard Gilkey - 45
Paul Lo Duca - 44
David Wright - 41
Mike Cameron - 40
Rusty Staub - 39
Eddie Murray - 38
Robin Ventura - 38
Todd Zeile - 38
Ike Davis - 37

Home Runs:

Kevin McReynolds
Dave Kingman - 48
Yoenis Céspedes - 44
Carlos Delgado - 39
Mike Piazza - 38
Mike Cameron - 35
Gary Carter - 34
Frank Thomas - 34
Robin Ventura - 32
Cliff Floyd - 31
Bernard Gilkey - 31
Kevin McReynolds - 31
Darryl Strawberry - 31

Runs Batted In:

John Olerud
Carlos Delgado - 126
Bernard Gilkey - 124
Robin Ventura - 120
Mike Piazza - 119
Dave Kingman - 118
Gary Carter - 116
Yoenis Céspedes - 112
Donn Clendenon - 108
John Olerud - 107
Kevin McReynolds - 102

Slugging Percentage:

Mike Cameron
Mike Piazza - .604
Yoenis Céspedes - .583
Bernard Gilkey - .544
Rico Brogna - .529
Robin Ventura - .525
Cliff Floyd - .523
Carlos Delgado - .518
Donn Clendenon - .512
Dave Kingman - .511
Mike Cameron - .510

On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage:

Rico Brogna
Mike Piazza - 1.005
Yoenis Céspedes - .941
Bernard Gilkey - .930
Robin Ventura - .902
Cliff Floyd - .890
John Olerud - .889
Rico Brogna - .880
Carlos Delgado - .870
Benny Agbayani - .867
David Wright - .865

As you can see, there are several players whose names you would expect to see in multiple categories.  Power hitters such as Céspedes, Piazza, Carlos Delgado, Dave Kingman and others can be found in at least three of the five top-ten lists.  But did you really expect to see a guy like Rico Brogna appear on as many lists as David Wright?  What about Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron showing up three times?  Or most surprisingly, what do you think of Bernard Gilkey and Robin Ventura joining Piazza as the only three players to rank in the top ten in all five categories?

Those unexpected players (Brogna, Floyd, Cameron, Gilkey, Ventura) all had sensational starts to their careers in Flushing, but they also suffered injuries (Brogna, Floyd and Cameron come to mind) or faded quickly (Gilkey and Ventura were both one-season wonders).

Meanwhile, a number of all-time team greats were absent from a number of these top-tens.  The late, great Gary Carter made it to the Hall of Fame and began a miraculous World Series rally that fueled the Mets to a championship.  But his excellent .490 slugging percentage and .861 OPS in his first 162 games with the team were both not high enough to appear on either category's respective top-ten list.  Darryl Strawberry may have won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1983, but his only appearance on any of the above lists is a ninth-place tie in the homer department.  And Carlos Beltran may be the greatest free agent signing in Mets history, but a poor start to his career in New York kept him off every list.

It remains to be seen whether Céspedes will go down the road traveled by the great sluggers in Mets history or if the nagging injuries continue to increase and he will just be remembered for the incredible 162-game start to his Mets career, which included helping the team reach the 2015 World Series.

For now, Céspedes is one of only three Mets to have at least 30 doubles, 35 homers and 100 RBI in his first 162 games with the team, joining Carlos Delgado and Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.  Whether or not Céspedes joins Piazza in Cooperstown or even in the Mets Hall of Fame won't be known for years, but one thing's for certain.

Yoenis Céspedes has been gotten off to one of the best starts of any hitter in franchise history.  And there's nothing fluky about that.

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