I check my previous articles and realize I already wrote an article on Willie Davis. I looked at the article and realized I would just write a similar article, so I skipped ahead to Cesar Cedeno. Thus ends the center field streak at 3.
As a 20-year-old in 1971 Cesar Cedeno led the league in doubles which was impressive. At age 21 I heard about him after the season as a book I got every year “Baseball Superstars” had an article on him and how he hit .320 as a 21-year-old. He also stole 56 bases, led the league in doubles again and was an above average centerfielder. His manager Leo Durocher said he had as much talent as Willie Mays did when he was young and had the potential to have a career like Willies. Next year his season wasn’t quite as good, but still excellent, especially for a 22-year-old.
However, he accidently shot a young lady (not his wife) and was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He got a light sentence and came back to the Astros but was never the same player. He never hit as well again. However, he still would steal 50 bases a year and was close to average (according to Baseball Reference WAR) every year in centerfield. According to WAR he was now an All-Star type player, but no longer a Superstar.
In 1978 Cedeno only played in 50 games. I looked at a couple of short biographies and didn’t find much written about that season. But after this season he went down another notch. In 1977 he stole 61 bases. His 6th year in a row with 50 or more. He never stole 50 again. In 1980 he stole 48 bases, then never stole 20 bases in a year again. Starting in 1980 he became a below average fielder for most years.
In 1980 Cedeno had an all-star like season and helped lead the 1980 Houston Astros to a division title. Cedeno got some big hits down the stretch as the Astros won a tight race. Cedeno was always a good clutch hitter in his career. Unfortunately, he cracked an ankle going to first in the third game and missed the rest of the series. Since the Astros lost two extra inning games to lose the series after that, we can only imagine what would have happened if Cedeno hadn’t of hurt himself.
In 1985 Cedeno had only last hurrah. He was having a poor season at age 34 with the Reds. He was hanging on just to make it through the year as a part time player. Then the Cardinals being in a tight race with the Mets had Jack Clark their power hitting first baseman get hurt. The Cardinals in desperation traded for Cedeno to play first. It worked better than anyone expected. In 28 games with the Cardinals Cedeno hit .434 and slugged .750. He helped drive the Cardinals to the pennant, getting some more clutch hits.
However, his hot streak didn’t continue in the post season, as the Cardinals lost the World Series. Next year the Dodgers tried Cedeno on the team, but at age 35 he was essentially done. His biggest accomplishment of the year was playing in his 2,000 game.