Cano just unlucky in cards

Murcer to return to the booth tonight
Minor League Month in Review: April

Robinson Cano‘s pathetically slow start has seemingly been the topic du jour around RAB tonight. While Joe touched on it yesterday, I want to revisit it briefly today.

After going 1 for 4 yesterday, Cano raised his average to a whoppin .155 with a .212 OBP and a .236 slugging. But things aren’t bad for Cano; he’s just been really, really unlucky. Or at least that’s what the folks at Pinstripe Alley say. Take a look at this table, originally produced by jscape2000 on PA:

Cano 2007 2008
BB% 5.9 6.2
K% 13.8 13.2
LD% 16.9 17.4
GB% 52.2 51.1
FB% 30.9 31.5

Joe noted many of these numbers yesterday, and the trends are encouraging. As jscape wrote, “Robinson Cano hasn’t been the worst player in the league, just the most unlucky.
We’d expect BABIP to be LD% plus .120. Robbie’s expected BABIP is .284, his actual is .156.”

In other words, Cano’s slow start seems to be a case of his hitting the ball not where they ain’t but where they are. Furthermore, Cano’s not swinging any earlier in counts than he ever has. He has seen 3.40 pitches per plate appearances. That’s down 0.02 from last year and up by 0.18 over his 2006 totals.

At some point, the balls Cano is hitting will begin to fall, and his average will rise. The Yanks could really use those breaks.

Murcer to return to the booth tonight
Minor League Month in Review: April
  • barry

    Once he clicks no one will worry about it, it is discouraging to deal with these slow starts though.

  • Count Zero

    I agree on the Cano assessment, but there is a down side to what you wrote. Taking this at face value:

    We’d expect BABIP to be LD% plus .120. Robbie’s expected BABIP is .284, his actual is .156

    I assume that should be .294? So the flip side of that is his expected BABIP for 2007 was .289 — Which means this is a makeup call for the fact that his actual BABIP in 2007 was .329

    So you might pessimistically say it’s unlikely he will have another year like 2007 unless he gets really lucky again at some point.

    • Edwantsacracker

      Thats absolutely right and something that I would have missed.

    • dan

      That .120 rule is more of a general thing. There are players who consistently are higher than their expected BABIP. Cano is one of those players (check his career numbers) and if I remember correctly, so was Josh Phelps (minor league included)

  • JT

    You are ignoring his IFFB%, which is up from 4.8% last year to 16.1% this year. That doesn’t include all of the pop ups that just make it out of the infield.

    I have watched all of his at bats this year, and i think his BABIP numbers may be a bit misleading.

    • JT

      Cano’s O-Swing% is down from last year, 34% to 26%, but his contact on those swings (O-Contact%) percentage is up from last year, 69% to 80%. This means that he is making more contact on the bad pitches that he is swinging at.. which probably result in weak contact aka outs early in the count that we are witnessing.

    • Joe

      I have to agree with this. While I’m not panicked over Cano, I really don’t like what I’m seeing and I don’t think it’s just a matter of luck. His BABIP could very well be so low because he’s making bad contact, weakly grounding out or popping the ball up, like JT said.

      Don’t get me wrong – I do think Cano is going to come out of it, and in a pretty big way. I just think it’s going to take some sort of mechanical adjustment on his part, which isn’t surprising seeing as there are so many moving parts in his swing.

      • Adam

        does anyone else see these “moving parts”? his swing appears as fluid and compact as they come.

  • CB

    Cano will snap out of this but there are things to be concerned about as his at bats right now are not producing solid contact.

    One thing on his BABIP – it is very low but even if his BABIP right now was his expected .284 ( LD rate + .12) it would still be significantly lower than what he’s done in the past.

    Every year he’s been a pro Cano’s BABIP has been over .300: 2005 – .318, 2006 – .359, 2007 – .329.

    So in 2006 and 2007 his BABIP was well over LD rate + .12. Hopefully this isn’t going to be a year where his BABIP turns out much lower than expected.

    BABIP is influenced by both skill and luck. LD + .12 is one rule of thumb to come up with how skill figures in (skill here is hitting line drives).

    But it’s likely that players will over time settle in at a certain BABIP range from year to year that is a characteristic of their hitting style – the figure will vary by chance but will stay within a certain range. Jeter for instance over the past several years has exceeded LD + .12 for his BABIP.

    Hopefully Cano gets back to being a .320 + BABIP guy this season. Given his high ground ball percents he’ll need high BABIP to keep up his average.

  • Joey

    I wonder if not having Larry Bowa pushing him everyday is playing in to this. When the Yankees changed managers I was really hoping that Bowa would stay as the third base coach.

    • Ben K.

      Cano’s streak of bad luck and Larry Bowa have nothing to do with each other.

      • Joey

        It just doesn’t seem like he is driving the ball. When he hits it to the outfield it is usueally a lifeless fly ball that the fielder has all day to get under. He is early on the breaking balls and late on the fastballs, he doesn’t look comfortable at the plate. Your saying that none of this could be a lack of focus. I just find it hard to believe that this is all bad luck and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cano and think that he will get his hits but can’t the weather or approach or focus be a factor. All bad luck and nothing more is a pretty big pill to swollow.

  • Jim

    Jason Collette did a pretty good piece on this today at He found that while the surface numbers are as bad as they look, the peripherals are all solid and his selectivity is up, which are good signs for a recovery.

  • Joey

    With A-Rod and Posada out, a Cano hot streak would be nice. The yankees will need the offense. Anyone ever thought they would see duncan hitting clean-up?!?! Better than Giambi but still.

  • adam b.

    those numbers are uncanny, i mean it jives with my own subjective observation that he’s been unlucky but this seems to really the product of some really bad fortune. that said, his 588th ranking in VORP overall is worrisome and hopefully he can turn it around i think the day it starts clicking for robbie is the day the offense gets some consistency because he’s such a valuable part of the lineup and when he’s an automatic out it really hurts, things will turn around eventually he just cant get disparaged

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  • RollingWave

    he’s hitting a TON of popups, his INF/FB rate is off the charts right now. there’s a few way to explain that. and even with this considered he still should hit well over .200 if just based on the LD rate.

    but this is painful to watch. espically for my favorite player.