There are 10 players in New York Mets history that have won an MVP Award. Problem is, none of them have pulled it off while with the team. Can Yoenis Cespedes be the first?
In what was arguably their most significant acquisition of a position player since Mike Piazza in 1998, the Amazins’ laid the groundwork for a division title, World Series run, and back-to-back playoff appearances.
In order to facilitate the deal, the Mets would have to deal away pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. Cessa was merely an afterthought, but Fulmer was thought to be the next great pitching prospect in the pipeline.
But it was all worth it as Cespedes provided the Mets with something that they had sorely been lacking—a bona fide MVP candidate. Coupled with their young, talented pitching, Cespedes would make this team a force to reckon with for years to come.
An interesting fact about our beloved Amazins’—10 players who have garnered MVP honors have played for this organization, but no one has ever done it wearing the orange and blue—Yogi Berra (1951, 1954, 1955), Ken Boyer (1964), Willie Mays (1954, 1965), Joe Torre (1971), George Foster (1977), Keith Hernandez (1979), Kevin Mitchell (1989), Jeff Kent (2000), Rickey Henderson (1990), and Mo Vaughn (1995).
David Wright has had four top-10 finishes in MVP voting. Mike Piazza has had three top-15 finishes as a Met. Carlos Beltran was fourth in the voting in 2006. When Wright’s career imploded, New York needed someone to step in and be the guy. The acquisition of Cespedes quelled that dilemma and now the Mets have a true MVP candidate amongst their ranks. This was evident almost immediately upon his arrival in Queens. Cespedes only participated in 57 games with the Mets in 2015, but his performance was so prolific that he found himself receiving votes for NL MVP by season’s end.
Fast forward three years and Cespedes has yet to bring home the elusive honor that crowns the best player in the National League. But who knows? The stars just might align for the Amazins’ in 2018.
Through 10 games they have opened to their best start in franchise history at 9-1. If they exceed expectations and become a preeminent National League club, who is to say that their best player couldn’t receive MVP attention?
Less than two weeks into the season is still a period fueled by speculation, but Yoenis Cespedes has as good as chance as any of his predecessors to bring home the first MVP award in franchise history.
What goes without saying is how good the Mets perform when they have their slugging outfielder in the lineup. Since the Mets acquire Cespedes in 2015, they are 153-126 when he appears in the lineup and 146-119 when he starts. If you adjust that to fit 162 games, the Mets are approximately an 89-win team when Cespedes plays.
So in order for the Mets to be successful, Cespedes has to be successful, and for that to happen, he has to remain on the field.
In 2016, the two-time All-Star appeared in 132 games. In 2017, a series of leg injuries limited him to only 81 games. The Campechuela, Cuba native attributed his struggle to stay on the field last season to his training methods, which we glimpsed when ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza trained with him for a day at the Barwis Methods Complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Keenly aware of the health issues that kept arising, the Mets’ star left fielder opted to trade out the powerlifting and bulking for yoga and flexibility training this past offseason.
The early returns have been promising. We’ve had the privilege of watching a slimmer and agiler Cespedes move comfortably around the outfield and on the basepaths. Not to mention, his arm looks as powerful as ever. Number 52 gunned out Miami’s Braxton Lee while trying to stretch a single into a double on Monday night.
The road to the MVP Award will not be easy. The National League is ripe with star players who have the ability to make a case for themselves over the summer. Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies is batting .429. Bryce Harper has already launched six home runs. Pittsburgh’s Gregory Polanco has notched 13 RBI. Cespedes looked comfortable over the first few days of the season but has since struggled and his numbers are showing it—a .190/.277/.428 slash line with three home runs, 10 RBI, and 20 strikeouts.
An early season slump may be concerning, but it’s important to remember how quickly Cespedes can bounce back.
Back in 2015, Cespedes blasted 17 home runs and accumulated 44 RBI in only 57 games, totals that took 81 games for him to reach in 2017. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Marlins, Cespedes was on a 1-for-17 skid, with that one hit being the game-winner in Washington on Sunday night. But even while staring a 0-for-4 night in the face, Cespedes laced a double to left field and knocked in two runs to give the Mets the lead and eventual win on Tuesday.
Cespedes has garnered MVP votes three times in his career—10th 2012, 13th in 2015, and eighth in 2016. He is a two-time All-Star that owns both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. He has the potential to launch 30-plus home runs and drive in 100-plus runs in any given season.
Since joining the Mets, he has evolved into a more patient and disciplined hitter. As presently constructed, there is no better candidate on this roster to receive MVP honors. Now it is just up to Cespedes to go out there and bring it home.