Will Cano rebound?

Bernie Williams and the WBC
A-Rod's slowly decreasing home run numbers

trenton-canoOne of the biggest goats of the 2008 season was second baseman Robbie Cano, who saw his offensive output drop from .306-.353-.488 with a .358 wOBP in 2007 to just .271-.305-.410 and a measly .307 wOBP last year. Many a pundit pointed to his newfound financial security as the culprit, others pointed to Larry Bowa’s departure. Whatever it was, the Yankees need Cano to rebound not just for 2009’s sake, but for the sake of the team’s future because he’s their only established position player closer to his 25th birthday than his 30th.

Dan Turkenkopf of Beyond the Box Score took a look at what could have been the reasons for Cano’s down year, and whether or not there’s rebound potential. Turkenkopf looked at three statistical components of Cano’s year, so let’s summarize:

  1. Contact Rate: This was unchanged compared to past year’s, but it’s not the best way to measure offensive performance.
  2. BABIP: Cano’s BABIP dropped 45 points from 2007, down to .286, indicating that he might have run into some bad luck. Simple regression to the mean (.323 career BABIP) indicates bounceback potential.
  3. Isolated Power: Of the hits Cano was able to pick up last year, not many dropped in for extra bases. His IsoP bombed 43 points to just .139, well below the ~.180 level he was at in 2006 and 2007. Expecting a return to his career mark isn’t as simple as it is with BABIP.

The article notes that we should expect Cano to perform better at the plate in 2009 than he did in 2008, but matching his 2006-2007 levels might be too much to expect. The drop in IsoP is troubling, so that’s something we’ll have to watch.

One thing that should be mentioned is the late season change to Cano’s batting stance, something Joe touched on back in October. While we can’t draw anything conclusive from such a small sample, Cano hit the snot out of the ball after the change, which if nothing else is cause for some optimism. Also, it’s worth noting that 2008 Robbie Cano hit almost like 2007 Robbie Cano for a pretty big chunk of the season, going .301-.329-.451 from May 8th on.

Aside from the offense though, Robbie’s defensive value was way down last year. Using the +/- system, Cano went from a +22 defender in 2007 to a -13 defender in 2008, a 35 run play (!!!) swing. Fangraphs has his 2007 defense valued at +10.8 runs, and his 2008 defense at -7.2 runs, a much more modest 18 run dropoff. We can’t say for sure if this was Cano taking his struggles at the plate into the field, or if he lost a step in his range, or if he’s just another Lazy Latin American Player™, but it’s something he needs to improve. There’s no excuses really, he’s only 26 and basically in his athletic prime. All it takes is hard work.

As the stats indicate, the offensive demise of Robinson Cano has been greatly exaggerated. The Yanks are on the hook for a minimum of $27M over the next three years, so they need him to get back to being that 4-5 win player he was and can be.

Photo Credit: DC Products

Bernie Williams and the WBC
A-Rod's slowly decreasing home run numbers
  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Will Cano rebound?

    Does the pope shit on catholic bears in the woods?

    • Tom Zig
    • Joe R

      Yes?

    • Tim

      This guy is always as funny as Frank Caliendo

      • jsbrendog

        is that funny appreciation or funny i dont think frank caliendo’s impersonations are funny?

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Meh, a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

          • jsbrendog

            i think he is hilarious. but he doesnt impersonate anyone under the age of 45. psosibly 50

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I was also considering going with:

      “Do pornstars fall for anything?”

  • http://www.supertangas.com The man with 33 fingers

    He was hurt and just not telling anyone. He had a constant grimace on his face all of last year.

    • Bo

      The grimace was from two causes. One from being hungover. The other from hitting 270 and swinging at every first pitch.

      • jsbrendog

        1a. no greenies

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No, Robbie really just likes Grimace. That’s his favorite McDonaldland character.

          He’s got a huge beef with the Hamburgular, though. Don’t ask.

          • http://www.supertangas.com The man with 33 fingers

            Did the Hamburgular steal his swing? Oh dang it, I just asked. my bad.

            Arod, was that HR in your first spring at bat?

            • Mike Pop

              Hello Pachu.

  • steve (different one)

    FWIW, i think SG tracked Cano’s defense by week over at RLYW, and basically he had a 2 week (something like that) stretch that was completely abysmal, and he wasn’t too bad the rest of the season.

    he still has very good range, seems like he took his batting slump into the field with him.

    • http://replacementlevel.com SG

      It was a little longer than that steve, closer to 2 months. But yeah, he was really good until July, then really bad through August, then good again in September.

      The relevant posts are here and here.

      4/1 – 7/9: ZR of .865, 11 plays made above average, 8 runs saved above average.
      7/10 – 9/4: ZR of .692, 21 plays made below average, 16 runs saved below average.
      9/5 – End of season: ZR of .884, 5 plays made above average, 4 runs saved above average.
      Overall: .810 ZR, 5 plays made below average, 4 runs saved below average.

      His ZR projection for 2009 is slightly above average (+3). His UZR projection is slightly below average (-2). He should hopefully be at least average in 2009.

  • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

    Could his lower babip be caused by poor pitch selection? We all know that Cano is not really patient at the plate – maybe pitchers figured that out?

  • Tom Zig

    Can Larry Bowa even have an effect on a player like that?

  • http://baseballbeat.wordpress.com/ Baseball Beat

    I fully believe Cano will rebound.

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

    mike i think the plus minus system measure PLAYS the fielder is worth, not runs… cano made 22 plays more than the average fielder, then made fewer in 2008….. that may make more sense when considering fangraphs only had him at an 18 run change

    correct me if im wrong

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      You sir, are correct. I fixed the post. Thanks.

  • Bo

    It remains to be seen if he can make the adjustment the league has made to him. He hasnt shown an ounce of patience at the plate. But hes young and every young player struggles at some point. I don’t buy the whole Bowa effect thing. If you need a coach to motivate you daily you shouldn’t be playing for the Yankees.

    • jsbrendog

      If you need a coach to motivate you daily you shouldn’t be playing (for the Yankees) in the major leagues.

      fixed (kinda..)

    • jeremy

      Closing his stance should help him with pitch recognitiion. Fewer moving parts, eyes at a level, and it will help with balance as well. That and being in better shape. He’s never going to be a guy who draws a ton of walks, and honestly you don’t want him to be. You wnat him to stay aggressive, but be more selective in the pitches he does swing at. Too many times last year he got out in front of a slider and popped it up to short. His new approach should help him lay off those balls in the dirt, and make better contact consistently. It will also help with his power numbers, in that he’ll have a more steady base and better weight transfer.

      I guess, in short, I think he’ll bounce back, and I’ll go one further and say he has his best all-around year to date.

      Hopefully his changed attitude is for real, and he’ll stop taking mental breaks in the field also. He still turns a DP about as quick and as pretty as any 2B in the league.

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

    as far as his defense goes, im in the “his poor offense affected him mentally in the field” camp… i just cant imagine a 25 year old already past his defensive prime

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Stephen Drew?

      • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

        ha… touche

  • Joe R

    An A-Bomb, from A-Rod! I think I just vomited a little in my mouth as I typed that.

    • jsbrendog

      i vomited on my keyboard and shirt and tie as i read it

    • Darth Stein

      Better than that, first HR of the preseason in the first at bat of the game . . . Brett Mother F&@%ing Gardner!!!!111!1!!

      • andrew

        Oh melky, we hardly knew ye

        • Mike Pop

          Heh, na. We knew him all too well.

  • JeffG

    Like some have reffered to above I think the major problem was lack of plate dicipline. Seems like he worked hard during the off-season with K-long and with the new stance hopefully that will allow him to make better contact. They key is that he has to try to go after pitches he can handle rather than anything within a foot of the plate.

    I’m looking for a good bounce-back year. I think he is more than capable of being better than Pedroia.

  • jsbrendog

    the real question tho is will cano bring up his assists. the rebounds are nice but he really needs to get his teamates on the floor more involved.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Cano has ridiculous upside.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    You know what’s even more odd? Robbie’s Zone Rating was bested only by Mark Ellis amongst AL second basemen in the first half. After that, his defense just tanked.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Girardi took away the ice cream. You know how those crazy Latins are always going crazy for their ice cream in the summertime.

      • Mike Pop

        Sir, that is racist. That is racist and I take offence to that!!!!!!!!11!!!!

  • Rich

    I think Cano’s decline was likely attributable to a combination of factors (luck, focus, randomness) rather than merely one of them.

    That said, as long as the impact of his new stance is real, and there is an accompanying uptick in his plate discipline, he should be able to approximate his 2007 performance.

    An increase in his maturity level wouldn’t hurt either.

  • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

    New stance + Girardi / Jeter on his case more + less shitty luck = .320/.360/.530/90/100 line for Cano in 2009.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      lets toast to hoping for that

    • steve (different one)

      if that happens, the Yankees will win 100-105 games.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        if that happens, The Yankees will win 100-105 games.

        Fixed.

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          We’ll also have the best 3-4-5 in the game – if Cano is swinging a hot bat all year long like I hope he does, he should easily eclipse Matsui or Posada.

          • Mike Pop

            If Cano puts up those numbers, he takes over as best 2b in the AL East!!

    • Drew

      If that happens, Hello #3 hitter.

      • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

        even those numbers arent gonna move tex or arod… lets not get carried away… the highest he’ll ever hit in the lineup consistently will be no. 5

        • Drew

          You just love to disagree with me! lol I believe that if cano hits 320 he will be our 3 hitter and tex will protect alex. Plus that would be L R L R S for our first five in the lineup.

          • Drew

            (He’ll need a decent OBP too)

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          Yeah, at least in 2009. I’m sure if he starts consistently being a 100 RBI guy he’ll get his chance as Rodriguez starts to get long in the tooth.

  • Drew

    All last year i was wondering why Long gets all the praise in the world yet half the players on the team had their worst offensive #’s of their career.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      he was the hitting coach in 2007, too

      plus giambi, damon, nady, abreu all were productive last year for the yankees… more productive than most of us thought they would be

      • Drew

        Nady hit 267 if I remeber correctly for the yankees.
        As for what I meant by all the praise in the world, if you follow the team which you obviously do you would’ve seen every player and coach alike talk about his diligence and repoir with the players. I don’t remember all the stats but I know Melky Cano Jeter Alex with risp and our bench was horrible. I’m not saying it was his fault its just that he gets a lot of pub for his hard work and I don[‘t think it payted off last year.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Nady was here for all of what, three months?

          To blame or praise Kevin Long for any portion of Nady’s production (or lack thereof) would be silly.

          • Drew

            I’m just countering the fact that slugger said he had a productive season, he came over and hit 267.
            Slugger, I’m just saying a few of our hitters had bad years and he is the hittting coach, I know he worked hard but if the results are not there then it is all for naught.

            • Mike Pop

              Of course. I blame A-Rod.

              • Drew

                Point taken

        • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

          “you wouldve seen every player and coach alike talk about his diligence and repoir with the players”

          isnt this a good thing? that the players respect his work ethic and commitment to making them better hitters? arent the players and other coaches in the best position to judge his efforts? especially more than any of us blog commentors?

          its very unfair to blame what happened last year on the hitting coach… since everyone in the org has his back, lets give him the benefit of the doubt and address the situation again after the 09 season

        • http://Ranger2709.blogspot.com Old Ranger

          He can only show/tell the players a problem, it takes time to implement the changes…plus, he can’t swing for them.
          Nady is a different thing…one can’t fix something unless one knows the problem. He hadn’t been with the team long enough, plus he may have evened out. He may have been hitting over his head before coming to the Yanks.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      plus… not sure where u get the notion of kevin long getting “all the praise in the world”…

      come to think of it, i cant remember the last time this blog mentioned his name before this post

    • steve (different one)

      yet half the players on the team had their worst offensive #’s of their career.

      Cano.

      that’s the only person i would “blame” Long for.

      do you really think someone like Jeter gets much advice from the hitting coach at this point in his career?

      everyone else was hurt (Posada/Matsui/Jeter at times), hit just fine (Damon/A-Rod/Abreu/Giambi), or just might not be that good (Melky).

      • Drew

        I think every hitting coach goes over tape with their hitters and offers advice. He’s not telling the older players how to hit but he certainly offers advice and points out potential problems. BTW I’m pretty sure jeter’s year, which wasn’t even bad, was a result of his hand injury.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    http://tinyurl.com/c68dba

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      What a douche.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

        Wow, I forgot about that.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      i cant believe im saying this…. but i miss the beard

      • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

        I dunno … I think The Village People biker look will reflect Boston nicely.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Yes, but now, with the fumanchu and soul-patch, he looks more like Johnnycakes, Vito Spatafore’s gay lover from the Sopranos.

        That’s an easy target if I’ve ever seen one.

    • Drew

      Is it bad that i hate him this much?

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    NFL Headline sure to confuse country music fans:

    “Tampa Bay Bucs to release Brooks, Dunn”

    • jsbrendog

      ietc

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    According to PeteAbe, Swisher was just up with the bases loaded. Fell behind in the count 0-2, battled back to work a walk.

    LOVE. IT.

    • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

      Brett Gardner hit a lead off home run – I geeked out over that.

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        That makes me so happy, too.

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          I mean, he did it in their very first ST game, so the pitcher is probably just working on sharpening up his fastball and BG happened to run into it, but still. You know that’s gonna make the kid’s day and it will build up his confidence. I would be really pleased to see Gardner put up 10 homers this season if he wins the full time gig, that would be way above my expectations.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      He walked? He just stood there and waited to be walked?

      He didn’t choke up on the bat and slap a weak grounder towards third and try to leg it out to first, just barely coming up short but sliding headfirst into the bag and getting his uniform dirty in the process?

      He sucks. He must not have much of a passion for the game. DFA this clown, and let’s go trade for Darin Erstad.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      YES.

    • rbizzler

      Love it?! I hate it. He is supposed to be aggressive in those situations and attack. Never mind that it is the pitcher who is actually in a jam.

      Who does he think he is Bobby Abreu? Let me guess, Swish is afraid of the wall too.

      (kidding)

      • K.B.D.

        I almost bit on this. God, I’m gullible sometimes.

      • jsbrendog

        haha i am guilty of reading your response and going, for the ove of christ! until i read the disclaimer.

        yes, i have fallen pray to the thing i make fun of. damn.

        • rbizzler

          Mission accomplished. I am bored at work and all I have to sustain me is PeteAbe’s liveblog and RAB.

  • http://Ranger2709.blogspot.com Old Ranger

    jeremy@ 2:13, hit it well, with his assement!
    ==========================
    Once I was watching this AA (i think AA) 2nd baseman in the cage, hitting the ball all over the place and turned to the guy next to me saying; “this guy has a sweet swing, reminds me of Yogi (bad ball hitter) smooth swing, centers the ball well.” The guy said something like; “Yup! he’ll be up soon, if he can keep that up.”
    Found out later, he was a minor league scout.
    With the refinement in his stance, I can’t believe he will not bounce back! There is to much talent in him, not to. He may turn out to be another Norm Cash, never repeating his all time high but, unlike Cash, he should hit the .300+ and stay there for a long time. I think it finally dawned on him…he has to get in/stay in shape to play with the big boys.

  • Drew

    Why haven’t we heard about rigorous bunting drills like girardi talked about last year when noone could get a bunt down?

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      because as girardi found out the hard way during his playing days, chicks dig the long ball

    • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

      That’s a good question. Cano is the main guy that needs to learn how to do that stuff!

    • steve (different one)

      what other drills have we heard about?

      i’m sure there have been bunting drills.

      • Drew

        The only reason I pointed it out is beacause Girardi, in a post game piece last year answered a reporter that there will be plenty of bunting drills because of our inadequicies in that department. I just assumed we’d hear something about it. By drills I don’t mean fun going through the motions.. I said rigorous drills because he placed a lot of emphasis on it.

  • yankeefan91 Arod fan

    i heard cano gonna play first base for the baseball classic

    supposedly this is how the lineup is gonna be

    2b reyes
    ss h.ramirez
    3b a.rodriguez
    dh ortiz
    rf jose guillen
    1b robinson cano
    lf nelson cruz
    c miguel olivo
    cf willy taveras

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      If the Dominican team has three middle infielders and is trying to decide which one to move to first base, and those middle infielders are named Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, and Hanley Ramirez, then Hanley should be the one trying out a first baseman’s glove.

      Reyes and Cano are far superior defensively to HanRam.

  • Drew

    Pavano sighting on Mlb Network. Every years a fresh start? yeah except for the past 4 years. What a joke

    • Mike Pop

      Lol. He has to say that though.

  • Jay

    Hmmm. Let’s see. Melky and Cano hang out. Melky and Cano have reputations for not giving a sh–. Melky and Cano love junk food. Melky and Cano never learn the fundamentals. Melky and Cano regress and get WORSE instead of geting better.

    Is there a pattern there? Nahhh… Move along. Nothing to see here… It’s just one of those things….

    Meanwhile, up in Boston, the Red Sox have not one, but TWO, MVP candidates in Pedroia and Youklis.

    • Doug

      TRY HARDER

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