Yoenis Cespedes had one shot to make an impression on fans this all-star weekend, and he took full advantage of it. Now, he has to try to piece together a better second half of the season.
Cespedes has jacked 15 home runs so far this year, but he is slashing just .225/.293/.420. As a result, the 27-year-old Cuban did not make the AL All-Star Team. He became just the fourth player to participate in the Home Run Derby but not the MLB All-Star Game.
Cespedes wasted no time announcing his presence in the derby, hitting 17 home runs in the first round. He wound up with a total of 32 home runs to edge out Bryce Harper for the title and tie the third-highest total in derby history.
Bleacher Report's official Twitter colorfully passed along the news of his victory:
Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A's is the 2013 Home Run Derby champion! pic.twitter.com/RRkCGy6o2w— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 16, 2013
So now the challenge for Cespedes is to turn this success into a strong second half. Obviously, there is ample room for improvement, and it is reasonable to expect he will improve.
Last season, his first in the majors, Cespedes played in 129 games and produced a slash line of .292/.356/.505. He also wound up hitting 23 home runs.
So his power numbers are up from last year, but that doesn't mean he'll finish the year with more homers. Remember Bobby Abreu jacking 41 homers to win the competition in 2005? He hit only six in 322 plate appearances for the remainder of the season.
That is just the most glaring example of a player losing his power touch after an impressive showing in the derby.
Cespedes must now try to maintain his power stroke while also increasing his contact rate. In the latter part of that equation, there is ample reason to think he will improve.
Yahoo! Sports David Brown passed along the following Cespedes quote, via a translator:
In Cuba I played eight seasons and my first halves were always poor compared to my second halves, which were always the better ones. So I'm not really worried because I believe that will happen again.
As Brown also notes, this was not limited to his play in Cuba. Last year, Cespedes posted a .909 OPS in the second half following a .790 mark in that category over the first half.
The A's, of course, will be hoping their slugger goes on another second-half surge. They have to hold off the Texas Rangers, who lurk just two games back in the AL West standings.
Cespedes is an integral part to the A's lineup. He will be counted on to do more than jack the occasional home run.
If his dramatic victory in the Home Run Derby is any indication, he will rise to the challenge.
Who knows? Maybe we'll see Cespedes do that after a walk-off smash in the World Series this year.