Hustle double, infield single show slugger has turned corner from hamstring injury
By Chris Bumbaca
NEW YORK -- At several points this season, it was abundantly clear Yoenis Cespedes did not have his muscular, tree-trunk legs under him. He would meander to doubles in the corner. He sometimes wouldn't leg out a grounder to short.
That was not the case Friday in the Mets' 14-2 win over the Rockies at Citi Field, a game in which Cespedes did it all. In the 11 games leading up to the All-Star break, the Mets' star left fielder hit .133, but the time off seemed to serve Cespedes well. He went 4-for-6 with a double, one RBI and an impressive outfield assist.
The clearest sign Cespedes' legs are healthier occurred in the third inning when he slashed a ball down the right-field line. He immediately busted out of the box and stretched the hit into a double. He reached a max speed of 28.7 feet per second while running to second, per Statcast™, an improvement from his average max-effort Sprint Speed of 27.1 feet per second -- the average MLB max effort is 27.0 feet per second this season. In 2015, Cespedes' average max effort was 28.6, indicating he was back on par to his former levels with his sprinting on that double.
"To see him out there being able to run 100 percent is definitely a plus," Mets starter Jacob deGrom, who earned the win Friday, said.
With the bases loaded and the Mets already leading 13-2 in the eighth inning, Cespedes once again floored it out of the box on a slow roller to third. He beat the throw to first, at one point covering 29.2 feet per second.
"I thought he had a tremendous game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Not only he threw out the runner at the plate, as you saw, he's got all the skills. I mean, he beat out the ground ball, took another ball, turned it into a double. Hopefully it tells you his legs are feeling much better. We just hope it continues, because if we're going to get in it, he's going to lead the way."
As Collins alluded to, Cespedes not only got the job done with his legs, but also with his arm, which DJ LeMahieu tested in the sixth inning when he attempted to score on a Gerardo Parra fly ball. Cespedes gathered and fired a two-hop strike to home plate. Replay overturned the original safe call when it was deemed that Travis d'Arnaud tagged LeMahieu's back foot before he slid across the plate.
Cespedes' missile went 96.1 mph, according to Statcast™, the hardest throw he's unleashed in 2017. Last season, he topped out at 97.2 mph.
"He's a game-changer for us," Michael Conforto said. "When he's 100 percent healthy, he can do a lot of things."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.