It has to have been an amazing past several weeks for Yoenis Cespedes. From being courted to play professional baseball by several MLB teams, to signing a contract to play in America with the Oakland Athletics, to hitting a home run in his very first spring training game, to embarking on a trans-Pacific trek to play Opening Day baseball in Tokyo to hitting three home runs in his first four regular season games.
Needless to say, it's been a whirlwind of experiences for the rookie outfielder.
And he seems to be taking it all in stride—a testament to how comfortable he must feel in his new digs in the United States. And a reflection to how seamless his transition has been to the MLB. Proof of how ready he is to become a big league superstar.
Yes, what an awesome six weeks it's been for him.
From the get-go, Oakland's signing of the Cuban defector had fans scratching their collective heads. How the franchise could afford to sign Cespedes was somewhat of a conundrum. After all, the Athletics deemed some of their former players to be unaffordable, and they ended up trading away All-Star pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey (among other players).
How was Cespedes, a man who had not played a single game in the majors, suddenly worth the $36 million over four seasons?
Such hypocrisy led to an intense amount of mystique and intrigue from the perennially woebegone Oakland fan base. Why on earth would general manager Billy Beane sign an unknown international player? What was the point of acquiring this Cuban free agent? Had Beane gone crazy? Again?
Well, duh, yes. As we all know, Beane is considered a mad genius. And his latest Dr. Jekyll experiment is Cespedes. What makes the Cespedes signing so ingenious is that quality of the undetermined. It's like a mystery television series with so many unanswered questions: Who the heck is this Cespedes fellow, and what the heck is all the hype about? We must tune in.
That premeditated fascination from A's fans is a near-perfect marketing campaign in itself. For a fan base that has lacked a star position player to root for since Miguel Tejada's 2003 MVP season, Cespedes certainly re-piques their interest in Oakland baseball. They are hungry—in fact, starving—for another superstar to wear green and gold.
After all, the franchise is somewhat accustomed to employing the best players in their game during their respective eras—from Reggie Jackson to Rickey Henderson to Jose Canseco to Jason Giambi. If the Athletics are able to return to the days of having a bona fide superstar on their roster, it would be a step in the right direction toward having an elite overall team.
Well, hopefully. The team success will somehow take care of itself. Or not. Who really knows how one player can affect the winning ways of an always-losing franchise? Only time will tell.
Bus as for his own personal success, Cespedes is quickly showing that he indeed is the real deal. So far, in his short four-game MLB career, he is proving that at least he is headed in the direction of superstar status. Which is certainly more possible given that he is already 26 years old, ahead of the curve compared to almost every other rookie. Well ahead of the curve.
Last night, in Oakland's 8-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners, Cespedes became the ninth player in the Live Ball Era to hit three home runs in his first four games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. And just like that, the Athletics have their superstar.
And just like that, Cespedes fever is in full effect.
Through four games, Cespedes has a .308 batting average, a ridiculous 1.077 slugging percentage, with three home runs and seven runs batted in. And after just four games, Cespedes is the runaway candidate to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Yes, just like that.
Which is incredibly amazing given his adjustment to the big leagues—he's only been with the A's for about five weeks. But so far, in that brief time, Cespedes has given A's fans more than they bargained for. There's just something about him—that je ne sais quoi—that has everyone excited again in Oakland.
He's given them a reason to watch, a reason to cheer, a reason to hope and, more importantly, a reason to believe. Every time Cespedes is up to bat, it's a marvel to watch him hit, to see what he will do next. That by itself is more than Athletics fans could ask for.
What we are witnessing is a hero in the making. The international intrigue, the raw talent, the majestic moon shots. It's all a recipe for an awesome display of a player living up to the hype. That doesn't happen as often as one would think.
So, fans, uncover your mouths, don't wash your hands, let the germs infect you. Cespedes fever is about to consume you. You may not want it, but you are going to get it. It's a contagion that you'll be glad to have.
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