In 2012, the Oakland A's were noticeably different with and without their superstar in left field, Yoenis Cespedes.
When Cespedes was inactive last year, the A's went 12-22. It is just about safe to say that the A's would not have been a playoff team in 2012 without Cespedes and what he brings to the game. Cespedes is the A's clear-cut clean-up hitter when he is in the lineup.
Cespedes had a great rookie season and would have been the A.L. Rookie of the Year if it weren't for Mike Trout of the Angels. Cespedes hit .292 with 23 home runs and had 16 stolen bases in 2012 as he showed a tremendous combination of power, hitting and speed that make him a five-tool player.
The A's added depth to the club in the offseason in trades for Chris Young and Jed Lowrie. Those additions, plus the return of power hitters Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss made the A's look more like a complete team than they were in 2012.
Although Cespedes is still the A's most dangerous player, Oakland has more weapons besides him this year than they did last year.
Despite the talented players Oakland either added or retained after the 2012 season, it is still obvious that Cespedes is the heart and soul of the lineup.
A comparison that can be made to Cespedes' role on the A's is that of the catcher of the cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants; Buster Posey. The Giants won two championships in three years. The one year they didn't win it they didn't even make the playoffs. The difference was that Posey was lost for the season to injury the one year that the Giants didn't even reach the playoffs.
Even with Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp off to their hot starts to the season, the A's are not a complete team without Cespedes.
Oakland is fortunate to now play host to the Houston Astros for a three-game series. Although in professional sports you should never count your wins before the game is played, the A's are 3-0 against their new AL West division rivals this year.
Then again, the A's had Cespedes in those three games.