ATLANTA -- If the Mets' Yoenis Cespedes somehow completes a monster push to sneak away with the National League Most Valuable Player award, it would be unprecedented.
No player has been named MVP after spending most of the season in the opposite league. Besides, despite his team's late-season swoon, the Nationals' Bryce Harper appears to have staked a claim for the honor.
There is precedent, however, for players to snag MVP votes after a trade from the other league. In that regard, Cespedes could make some noise.
"It just seems like he puts himself in scoring position each time he walks up to that plate," said David Wright, who insisted on Wednesday that Cespedes merits consideration.
Since his acquisition from the Tigers, Cespedes has flourished with the Mets. Entering Thursday night's rain-delayed game against the Braves, he had 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 36 games, numbers that have helped turn the team around offensively.
"You just get confidence," Michael Cuddyer said of Cespedes' impact. "It's a snowball effect. No matter what, you always know you're going to be in it, because you're always feeding off the energy of that player. You know that player is always one inning away from coming back up to the plate."
Perhaps Cespedes' sudden impact will be enough to vault him into the top five of MVP voting.
"Is he the MVP? I don't know," Cuddyer said. "But he's definitely in the conversation, which just to be in the conversation after playing only 36 games in the league should speak volumes as it is."
The 2008 season provided two of the most stark examples of the last 20 years. Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia finished in the top 10 of National League MVP voting despite playing much of their season in the American League. Yet for all their brilliance, neither garnered a first-place vote.
Mark McGwire (1997), Mark Teixeira (2008) and Matt Holliday (2009) also received votes, though none of them finished in the top 10.
Perhaps a better fate awaits Cespedes, though the National League already features a strong group of candidates led by Harper.
Of course, MVP debate aside, no trophy is required to legitimize Cespedes' value to the Mets. With a .312/.357/.675 slash line entering Thursday night, he has played a huge role as the Mets have pulled away from the Nationals.
The gold standard for midseason trade stardom remains Ramirez and his enchanted Mannywood season of 2008, when he posted a 1.232 OPS after his arrival with the Dodgers. Remarkably, that's more than 200 points higher than Cespedes' 1.032 OPS with the Mets.
However, while Ramirez helped to improve the Dodgers' offense by half a run, Cespedes brought to life what had been one of the league's least productive lineups.
The Mets were averaging only 3.5 runs per game on the afternoon of July 31, when general manager Sandy Alderson beat the trade deadline by mere minutes to acquire Cespedes.
Since then, the Mets have scored 6.1 runs per game, or 2.6 more runs on average.
"The thing that a lot of people forget is that you're not trading baseball cards," Cuddyer said. "You're trading human beings. Sometimes when a guy gets traded outside of what he's been used to the previous four months, he doesn't feel comfortable. He doesn't perform. So it's even more remarkable from my eyes to get traded from a place you're used to, to come to all of a sudden a pennant race and flourish the way he has. And to carry us."
Of course, Cespedes hasn't been the only factor in the Mets' offensive spike. The transformation also has been spurred on by other key factors -- the promotion of Michael Conforto, the returns of Wright and Travis d'Arnaud and the additions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Still, they haven't matched Cespedes' knack for delivering critical hits, as he proved during the three-game sweep of the Nationals. He went 6-for-14 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
Said Wright: "It seems like big situations find him and more often than not he comes through -- extra-base hits, home runs, speed."
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