César Cedeño

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César Eugenio Cedeño Encarnación

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 195 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

"At 22, Cedeño is as good or better than Willie was at the same age. I don't know whether he can keep this up for 20 years, and I'm not saying he will be better than Mays. No way anybody can be better than Mays. But I will say this kid has a chance to be as good. And that's saying a lot." - Leo Durocher

César Cedeño was a five-tool player who combined good average, speed, stolen bases, a decent number of walks, outstanding defense, and a strong arm. Likened to Willie Mays early in his career, he struggled to live up to expectations on the field but put up solid numbers throughout his career. In 17 seasons, he hit 199 home runs and stole 550 bases.

Signed by the Houston Astros as a 16-year-old, César began his pro career in 1968 and reached the majors in 1970 at just 19. In 90 games for Houston that year, he hit .310 with 7 home runs and 17 stolen bases while finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. The following summer, 1971, in his first full season, he led the National League with 40 doubles. On September 2nd, he hit his first career grand slam in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Astrodome, off Claude Osteen of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His star continued to climb in 1972, when he posted a .320/.385/.537 line with 103 runs scored, 22 homers, an NL-leading 39 doubles, played in the All-Star Game and won a Gold Glove. On August 2, 1972, he hit for the cycle in a 10-1 pounding of the Cincinnati Reds. Nearly four years to the day later, August 9, 1976, he would once again crank out a cycle, this time in a blowout of the St. Louis Cardinals. TIn 1973, he hit an almost identical .320/.376/.537 with 25 home runs while again being named an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner.

Cedeño's life soon took a dark turn. While enjoying the company of a 19-year-old woman in his native Dominican Republic on December 11, 1973, tragedy struck when she was shot and killed with a gun that was in their possession. He was originally charged with voluntary manslaughter, after authorities alleged that the two were drinking and playing with said gun. Cedeño was held for 20 days in jail without bail, his lawyers negotiating for his release and a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, when it was determined she had been the one to pull the trigger. After paying a $100 fine, he was a free man and returned to Houston in time for the 1974 season.

César's star almost immediately began to dim. He never reached the lofty heights to which he had seemed destined. He continued to steal bases, but in eight more seasons with the Astros, he only once hit over .300 and only once hit more than 20 home runs. He did make the All-Star team two more times and won two more Gold Gloves. Part of the perception that he regressed as a player is because he missed half of the 1978 season with an injury, and his offensive numbers were depressed by playing in the Astrodome, a particularly tough place to hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His OPS+ remained above 100 every year from 1972 to 1982, and was above 120 most of those years. When the Astros won a division title in 1980, he was one of their best hitters, with a .309/.389/.465 line, 32 doubles, 8 triples, 10 homers and 48 stolen bases.

After the 1981 season, Cedeño was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for Ray Knight. His playing time declined in three and a half years with the club, and late in the 1985 campaign, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mark Jackson, who never reached the majors. With St. Louis, he caught fire for a time, hitting .434 with 6 home runs in 28 games during the pennant race, but fell back to earth in the postseason, going 4-for-17 in the NLCS and World Series as the Cards lost to the Kansas City Royals in seven games. He moved on to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986, hitting .231 in 37 games in his final season in the big leagues.

Following his big league days, Cedeno played for the Gold Coast Suns of the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989. He hit .331 in 38 games. The next year, he played for the Daytona Beach Explorers and batted .274 in 17 games before the league folded. He was later a minor league coach in the Astros and Washington Nationals systems. He was hitting coach for the Greeneville Astros in 2012-2017 and GCL Astros in 2018.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 4-time NL All-Star (1972-1974 & 1976)
  • 5-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1972-1976)
  • 2-time NL Doubles Leader (1971 & 1972)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1972-1974)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1974)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1972)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 6 (1972-1977)

Related Sites[edit]