Perhaps the most telling thing you can say about Oakland As slugger Yoenis Cespedes is that on just two nights he has bettered Babe Ruths sacred record of 60 home runs in an entire season.
Call Cespedes, the 28-year-old Cubano, baseballs greatest roadside attraction, a point he proved when he won the Home Run Derby on the eve of the All-Star Game Monday night, joining Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to do so in back-to-back years.
I wish there was another word that would describe it even better than that to win it in consecutive years, said Cespedes, whose majestic, arching blows routinely reached the second and third decks at Target Field in Minnesota.
What was all the more remarkable about Cespedes is that he wasnt afraid to compete in a Home Run Derby from which some players shied away, afraid that adjusting their swing would create problems when the season resumed.
I’m somebody who’s very conscious of the power that I have, he told reporters. So I don’t need to put more of a swing or more of an effort in order to hit a home run. I just have to look for a good pitch and put a good swing on it and it usually takes care of itself.
Cespedes hit 30 total home runs in Monday night’s competition. He hit 32 homers in winning the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field in New York.
Those 62 home runs on two nights are more than the 60 Ruth slugged in his fabled 1927 season and Roger Maris in 1961 Ruth and Maris being the only two players with more than 60 homers in a season not to be tainted by performance enhancing drug allegations.
And what more can you say about Cespedes beyond that hes simply Ruthian, even to the point of being a showman like the Sultan of Swat was back in his day.
I think that when the lights are there brightest, I know that the public is watching more than ever, Cespedes told ESPNs Pedro Gomez. And it truly motivates me and it makes me want to do my best at all times.
But now comes a chance for even brighter lights as Cespedes faces the challenge of leading his As team to a World Series championship they have not won since their glory days of the pre-New York Yankee Reggie Jackson 40 years ago.
A low-budget team made even more famous by the 2011 Brad Pitt-starring film Money Ball, the As now find themselves the most talked about team for recent deals that have further stamped them as the consensus best team in the game.
And Cespedes is one of the leaders of the As, a power hitter who, as one Bay Area columnist put it, also has the throwing arm of a superhero and the swagger of a Cuban Leonardo DiCaprio.
Yoenis Cespedes a superstar?
But some complain that Cespedes doesnt have the numbers of a superstar.
He has a season triple-slash of .246/.299/.442 that some believe isnt All-Star worthy, though he was one of six As players picked to this year’s All-Star Game. No other club has more than four representatives.
Cespedes also has hit 14 home runs this season for the American League West-leading Athletics, which ties him for only 19th in the league.
But this is the Oakland As, who crunch numbers unlike any other team in baseball, and perhaps what they look at most is the results.
Since the signing of Cespedes before the 2012 season, the As have won two American League Western division titles and appear ready to make it three in a row, making his $10.5 million paycheck for 2014 look like the best bargain in baseball.
And on Monday night Cespedes gave As fans something to look forward to with all those dingers in a Home Run Derby that teammates say they they grown accustomed to seeing.
As As left-hander Sean Doolittle put it:
A regular Monday batting practice for Cespy.