Cespedes is precisely the type of player you never would have found in Paul DePodesta’s computer — or Peter Brand’s spreadsheets, for those who have seen “Moneyball.” Then again, it’s not as if he is a complete mystery. Sabermetricians at both the club level and in the media have attempted to translate his numbers from Cuba to the major-league game.
Dan Szymborski, editor-in-chief of Baseball Think Factory, contributor to ESPN.com and creator of the ZiPS projection system, forecast Cespedes’ numbers through 2019 and came up with this line for his first season — .270/.331/.435 with 23 homers and 86 RBI.
Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury, Melky Cabrera and Shane Victorino are the only regular center fielders who had better rate stats in 2011. Kemp, Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson and Andrew McCutchen are the only ones who had better home run and RBI totals.
The unknown, of course, is how quickly Cespedes will adjust to the North American game — and whether he adjusts as successfully as the Athletics envision.
The A’s can’t wait on Cespedes, given the size of their investment and the ticking clock on his contract. But as one rival executive said, “What do you do if he’s hitting .110 after 20 games?”