LF YOENIS CESPEDES
Fellow outfielder Josh Reddick probably is the better known quantity on a no-name team, but Cespedes is the A’s best performer, hands down. In 487 at-bats, he hit a team-best .292, homered 23 times, knocked in 82 runs and scored 70. For good measure he threw in 16 stolen bases.
Though not exactly “smokin’” down the stretch, he did hit .308 with three homers, nine RBIs and six runs scored in Oakland’s final 10 games as it overtook Texas and pretty much stunned all of baseball by capturing the AL West title.
A 26-year-old rookie, the Cuban native symbolizes what the A’s are all about: production without any pretense. Indeed, no one knows who any of these guys are. No one on the pitching staff stands out, although Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone each can boast 13 wins. Reliever Grant Balfour has been around and been decent, but he’s hardly a revelation.
Reddick managed to hit 32 homers, scoring 85 runs and knocking in the same amount. But he also batted just .242.
Cespedes, clearly, is the closest thing Oakland has to a star, or at least a player who could evolve into one, especially within the Billy Beane “Moneyball” approach of economically utilizing sources. When the A’s square off with the Tigers in Detroit Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-five AL Division Series, they’ll do so with Cespedes carrying a .400 batting average against Detroit pitchers. Granted, he’s only had 10 at-bats. But they’ve all come at Comerica Park, where the action will take place this time as well.