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Yoenis Cespedes’ health is key for the Mets to compete in 2018

The 32-year-old leftfielder remains an elite slugger, but various injuries have kept him out since the 2015 World Series.

Yoenis Cespedes has missed more than a third

Yoenis Cespedes has missed more than a third of the Mets' games over the past two years. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rich Schultz

New York Mets fans know by now what a healthy Yoenis Cespedes is capable of doing for them.

Now, if only he could be healthy more often...

After appearing in 159 regular season games for the Mets and Detroit Tigers in 2015 — plus 15 more that postseason — he’s made it onto the field for 213 of 324 games (65.7 percent) the past two seasons. The Mets’ regular-season record in that time is much better with him than without, 109-104 (.511) compared to 48-63 (.432).

Three stints on the disabled list for injuries to both hamstrings and his right quad are to blame for most of Cespedes’ absences. This spring hasn’t been much smoother for the leftfielder, who has battled wrist, shoulder and hamstring troubles.

For his part, Cespedes was happy to joke about his spring maladies but assured reporters on March 17 that he’s “fine.”

“I’m [mindful of] my body, I want to take care of my body,” he said. “But so far my body feels good.”

Cespedes was far from the only Met felled by injuries the past two seasons. But as the team’s top position player, losing him for a third of the time undeniably limited the team’s potential.

Even after the blistering first few months of his Mets career, when he swatted 17 homers in 57 games after a July 31, 2015 trade, Cespedes continued to produce. His .534 slugging percentage ranks 13th in baseball among players with at least 700 at-bats. If extrapolated over 162 games, he would have averaged 37 homers and 98 RBIs while batting .284.

Cespedes’ numbers this spring have been just as impressive, batting .324 with six homers in 12 games. Yes, the games don’t count, but he looks to have picked up right where he left off after his season ended on August 25.

Nobody should expect the 32-year-old Cuban expatriate to play every single game, but if he can be on the field for 150 games and swat 30-plus homers while hitting for average, that will alleviate the daily pressure on the horde of talented starting pitchers.

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