Making the Grade: Ranking Left Fielders in the AL Central

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No. 2: Yoenis Cespedes, Detroit Tigers

Apr 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder

Yoenis Cespedes

(52) hits a triple in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Eduardo Perez thinks a Detroit Tigers player could win the AL MVP for the fourth time in the last five seasons. 

And his projection was not thorn-in-the-Indians-side Miguel Cabrera or last year’s award runner-up Victor Martinez. It was Yoenis Cespedes, who the Tigers acquired from the Red Sox in an offseason trade that sent Rick Porcello to Boston.

Cespedes has spent much of his young career as the focal point in the Oakland Athletics’ offense. He was schemed for, game-planned around and avoided at all costs, as teams did not allow his prolific power to beat them.

This year, however, Cespedes is in one of the most talented lineups in baseball, hitting behind the likes of Cabrera, Martinez and emerging star J.D. Martinez. As Perez said:

"You’re in an organization that has a lineup that is built for Yoenis Cespedes. You have Miguel Cabrera in the 3-spot, the best right-handed hitter of our generation. You have Victor Martinez, the best eye in the game. You have J.D. Martinez, who really came into his own watching those guys, in the 5-spot. And then you have Cespedes, who started the season in the 6-spot. He’s only going to have runners on base to drive in, and he is a prolific RBI guy. He’s only going to get better in that environment of the Detroit Tigers."

Cespedes has posted outstanding power numbers in his brief career, averaging 28 home runs and 102 RBIs per 162 games. But he has not proven to be the middle-of-the-lineup staple that can carry a lineup all on his own. His .265/.316/.465 career slash line is productive, but rather pedestrian for a potential MVP candidate.

But Perez believes the Tigers’ environment – and the relief of pressure – could spell the beginning of an absolutely dynamite season for the Cuban defector. If that plays out, Cespedes could take up residence at the top of this list. Until then, it’s tough to go away from the third-highest vote-getter for AL MVP a season ago.

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