Last night in the first inning, the Oakland Athletics‘ Yoenis Cespedes absolutely crushed an offering from the Seattle Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma. The ball easily cleared the wall in left field before ricocheting violently off the facing of the second deck.
Then in the ninth inning, Cespedes actually hit a ball even harder. The ball exploded off his bat and extended the Athletics lead to 6-3 on the night. As the Cuban slugger rounded the bases, fill-in TV announcer Scott Hatteberg summed it up perfectly with a single word: “Wow.”
The former Athletics first baseman added: “He’s heating up.”
Apparently Cespedes agrees with Hatteberg’s analysis. After the game, the left fielder told reporters via translator Ariel Prieto: “When I’m playing the outfield, my body is completely on fire.”Cespedes was certainly on fire last night, and after watching those two shots, it’s hard not to think that he has the quickest hands and the most powerful swing in all of baseball. For an opposing pitcher, that type of bat speed is downright frightening.
Cespedes seems to be making quite the habit of hitting home runs in bunches, as he now has three two-home run games in June. He also homered in back-to-back games in early May, and he’s hit a pair of dingers within a stretch of three games on three other occasions this season. Whatever the cause of this bunching may be, it leaves me to wonder just how home runs he will launch in 2013.
The second-year player is currently on pace to hit 33 home runs, but that’s assuming he were to play in all 162 games, which obviously won’t happen as he has already missed 14 games on the DL. Last season, Cespedes hit 23 home runs in 129 contests. So, perhaps a good goal would be for him to try to eclipse the 130 game-mark. If he does, I suspect he will hit more than eight home runs the rest of the way.
The 27-year-old has collected 10 of 15 home runs this season while playing on the road. That’s important because the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum seems to have made a nasty habit of allowing just one Athletics player a year to hit 30 home runs. In 2013, however, Cespedes looks to be that guy.
Whether or not he cracks the 30 home-run barrier, it sure is going to be fun to watch him destroy baseballs and torment any pitcher who dares to challenge him with a fastball below the eyes the rest of the season. For anyone who doubts that Cespedes can hit 30 home runs, just keep in mind that in 2011 — his final season in Cuba — he hit 33 in 90 games. Wow.