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What's Cespedes' post-break outlook?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even though Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is on top of the baseball world after winning the Home Run Derby Monday night, his production has hit rock bottom.

But that's exactly why it's time for fantasy owners to pounce on him.

Cespedes isn't going to get any worse than he was in the first half, when he hit .225 with a 23.5 percent strikeout rate, but he does have the potential to get a lot better.

Even if the outfielder continues to strike out at his current rate, his average is sure to rise.

While he certainly deserves a decline in BABIP from the .326 he put up in 2012 -- his line-drive rate is down from 19.6 to 16.1 percent and a higher rate of his batted balls have been average-killing infield popups -- Cespedes also has been unlucky.

The 27-year-old has lined out 16 times and is hitting .568 on his 37 line drives this season. If he owned a .750 average on line drives like he had last season, he'd be hitting .244 on the year.

Now, that's still well off from last year's .292 average, but again, that's also Cespedes' low point. He can certainly put up much better numbers if he reduces his strikeout rate and his infield popup rate.

We also know the Cuban still has immense power, and not just because we watched him hit 400-foot bomb after 400-foot bomb into the Citi Field third deck Monday night. With 15 home runs in 341 plate appearances this season, he is slightly ahead of last season's rate of home runs per plate appearances.

And while his average is down 67 points, his isolated slugging (ISO, slugging percentage minus batting average) has decreased just 19 points.

Cespedes' first half last year was similar to this season, albeit not as bad. He struck out in 22 percent of his plate appearances and hit .263 with nine home runs before going on a tear and batting .311 with 14 homers and a 16.8 percent K rate after the All-Star break.

He's worth taking a chance on to see if he can duplicate those numbers.

Prediction (rest of season) - 260 plate appearances, .274 batting average, 42 runs, 13 home runs, 44 RBI, seven steals




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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