Every so often in sports, an athlete comes along that captivates fans with the ability to do things that no one thought physically possible. In baseball, this “wow” factor is commonly less visible because of all the media focus on players who participate in more athletically dominated sports, like basketball and football. Yet, throughout its history, the MLB has had a couple of physical specimens in each generation with the god-given ability to do things they simply should not.
Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays are examples of players from the 50’s and 60’s who drew sold-out crowds to witness to their exceptional talent at the plate and in the field (see “The Catch”). Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Rickey Henderson stunned fans his once-in-a-lifetime speed, while his teammates Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco clubbed mammoth home runs that awed the nation. However, the most notable “freakish” athlete ever to put on cleats has to be Bo Jackson. Besides being the only player in the history of sports to make the All-Star Game in baseball and the Pro-Bowl in football, this 6’1” 230 lb. beast of a man seized the attention of America with his inhuman-like capabilities to hit, run, catch, and throw. After he was forced to retire due to a fluke, career-ending hip injury, the MLB has still yet to find another like him. There have a couple players that have been able to mimic his power, arm strength, or even speed, but none who have had the whole package.
The A’s might just have this type of man on their roster.
Tuesday night in the 8th inning, Yoenis Cespedes uncorked what looked like a bullet out of a gun from the left field line in order to stop Howie Kendrick from scoring what would have been the go-ahead run. Here you can see “Yo’s Throw”.
However this remarkable 300-foot toss is not the only reason that he has become known for his athletic prowess. After coming over from Cuba, just before his rookie season, he released a workout video highlighting his physical characteristics and if you take a look, you will see that Cespedes does it all. He has the speed (6.3 60 yard dash), explosiveness (45 inch vertical) and strength in both his upper and lower body (1400 lbs. leg press/350 lb. bench press) of an ox. He manages to do all of this despite only being 5’10”, although still retaining the frame of a tank (215 lbs.).
On top of that, his performances have backed up the ridiculous athleticism he possesses. In his first home game as a Athletic, he hit a home run 465 feet that would have traveled much further if not for the confines of the ballpark. The next year his saga continued as he won the Home Run Derby, hitting a total of three balls into the never-reached third deck at the Met’s Citi Field. So far this season, his third in the league, he leads the MLB with 9 outfield assists while also in the AL Top 15 in the following offensive categories: Doubles, Triples, RBI’s, Home Runs, Slugging Pct., and Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
A’s fans have been observing his impressive ability since his arrival in 2012, but it had not been until recently that the entire league got put on notice. The fact of the matter is that everyone should appreciate Cespedes and all that he can do. Although he may not have an emphatic personality, he is certainly an electrifying baseball player that every game has the potential to do something that will make you reconsider the limitation of human athleticism.