For Robinson Cano, April 2008 was a month to forget. Surrounded by lofty expectations, Cano hit .151/.211/.236 with two home runs and seven RBIs. While he eventually heated up during the summer, he never really recovered and had an off year for him.
Cano’s April last year set the tone for his season though in more ways than just for rate stats. In 114 plate appearances, he drew just seven walks and struck out 14 times. He managed five extra-base hits — three doubles to complement those home runs — and scored just six runs.
Night and day, then, is how I would describe the difference between 2008 and 2009. This April, Cano is off to a blazingly hot start. In 78 plate appearances, he is hitting .366/.410/.634 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. He has struck out six times and walked six times, has nine extra-base hits and has crossed the plate 15 times. He leads the Yankees in home runs, RBIs, batting average and runs scored and is second only to Nick Swisher in OBP and slugging.
No one really knows what the future holds for Robinson Cano. At age 26, he is nearing his peak offensive years, and he has looked like a far superior hitter than he did for much of last year. He’s staying back on the ball and has displayed a better strike zone recognition this year than at any point in his career.
On a personal level, I love it. Watching Cano hit has always been a pleasure, and he quickly emerged as a favorite of mine when he arrived in 2005. He’s a confident, young player who has made an impact on the Yankees, and watching him struggle last year was tough. Here’s to a solid 2009 for Cano. His April could hardly be better, and his bat makes the Yanks immeasurably better.