Mar
08

2010 Season Preview: Will the real Robinson Cano please stand up?

By

On a team full of superstars, it’s easy to overlook the production of Robinson Cano. The youngest full-time player in the lineup, the Yanks’ second baseman is coming off a bounceback 2009 season just as he enters the prime years of his career. Yet despite hitting at least .306 with at least a .182 IsoP in three of the last four years, not everyone is sure what to expect out of the enigmatic Cano next season.

When Cano first arrived in the big leagues, it was amidst a full blown crisis in May of 2005. His game was a breath of fresh air to a team desperately in need of one. He was young player on an old club, and he produced enough with the bat to finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting. After posting a pair of fine seasons in 2006 and 2007, Cano slumped to .271-.305-.410 with a .307 wOBA in 2008, career lows across the board. Thankfully the one year decline in production lasted just that long, one year. He rebounded to hit .320-.352-.520 with a .370 wOBA last season, and the great Chase Utley was the only full-time second baseman to provide more with the stick.

At 27-years-old, Cano is hitting what should be the best years of his career. To take that next step towards greatness, however, he’ll need to improve his performance with runners in scoring position. To date, Cano has been just a .256-.291-.398 (.290 wOBA) hitter with men on second and/or third, though last year he dropped all the way down to .207-.242-.332 (.251) in those spots. Luck (.267 BABIP with RISP career, .210 in 2009) only has so much to do with it, and it’s up to Cano to make the necessary adjustments to become more of a traditional run producing threat. As the offensive core of the team ages, the Yankees are going to need Cano to step into the middle of their order pretty soon.

In the field, we all know Robbie’s capable of making awe-inspiring plays, yet advanced metrics haven’t been too kind to him in recent years. His three year UZR is essentially league average at -0.6, dragged down by relatively high error totals. Jeff Zimmerman’s age-adjusted UZR projections peg Cano as a -2.0 run defender next season, though it’s easy to envision a scenario in which he wows with the leather and actually plays well-above average defense. I’ve already touched on his baserunning earlier in the winter, and the progress is encouraging. With some more experience and improvement in 2010, Cano should add a run or two to the Yanks’ ledger with his legs.

So what should we expect from Cano offensively next season? Let’s turn to some projections for an answer. Remember to click for a larger view.

As these things tend to do, the five freely available projection systems average out to something extremely close to Cano’s career output. The projected .358 wOBA is exactly what he posted in 2007, and a touch down from his 2009 output. Just two full-time second baseman besides Cano hit for a wOBA that high last season, so we’re still talking about top tier production from the premium position. Combine that with a -2.0 UZR and +1.0 baserunning runs, and we’re looking at 3.6 WAR player.

That projection is almost a full win off Cano’s 2009 pace, though he could easily outperform it as he enters his age-27 season. Slated to earn $9M in 2010, Cano is no longer cheap. In fact, he’ll be the third highest paid second baseman in the game this season, so the training wheels are off. It’s time to the Yanks’ second baseman to get over that hump and go from being a very good complementary player to a true centerpiece. Improving with runners in scoring position would go a really long way towards helping him do that.

Photo Credit: Charlie Neibergall, AP

Categories : Players

74 Comments»

  1. Christos says:

    (standing)

  2. Rose says:

    I’ve always thought Robinson Cano was a keeper. I can’t believe we almost put him in the trade for Randy Johnson…yeesh.

    His raw talent is so great…people mistake his demeanor or personality for laziness.

    The new stadium increased his power to 25 HR which is incredible. He’s taking more pitches…and fouling off or hitting the rest.

    I think there were people in here a while back who said they would have traded Cano for David DeJesus. I have always been entirely against that. While DeJesus is a solid player, Robinson Cano has the potential to become a really great player.

    If you have fantasy leagues coming up…I would sneak Cano in the 3rd round or so if you can…he’s going to have another great year.

    • His raw talent is so great…people mistake his demeanor or personality for laziness.

      Agreed. Also:

      http://media.avclub.com/assets.....le_q85.jpg (safe)

    • Camilo Gerardo says:

      I don’t think the new stadium made Robinson a 25 hr player

    • Steve H says:

      Cano had 14 hr’s at home, 11 on the road. To say that the stadium increased his power isn’t really fair to Cano. He’s just developing as a hitter, and power always comes later. YSII was a HR park for LHB as well, and for his career Cano’s home/road HR’s are almost identical.

      As far as Dejesus goes, I will never get the love affair some have with him, though I’m guessing it’s because he’s a New Yorker. Thank God no one that matters would have ever considered that trade.

      • Rose says:

        As far as Dejesus goes, I will never get the love affair some have with him, though I’m guessing it’s because he’s a New Yorker. Thank God no one that matters would have ever considered that trade.

        I’ll never get it either. I had him last year in fantasy and he was borderline useless…despite his consistency with mediocrity and averageness. I guess when you dig deep and splice all the sabermetrics together…somebody once put some of his stats side by side with Carl Crawford and talked about the similarities. I just never understood it. He’s not bad by any means…I just never understood the hooplah over him.

        Now the Matt Kemp for Robinson Cano craze that also took place…THAT at least I can understand. Although, right now, I really really really like Robinson Cano and probably would opt to keep him over trading for another OF. Even if that OF is Matt Kemp…

        • “I think there were people in here a while back who said they would have traded Cano for David DeJesus. I have always been entirely against that. “

          I don’t know who you’re talking about here, but the only thing I could find was this comment, which is from a really long time ago and which we thought was a joke. So I kinda think you’re railing against nonexistent commenters here, I don’t think anybody has seriously suggested that the Yankees should trade Cano for David DeJesus. Here’s an older thread in which Mike discussed (positively) the idea of acquiring DeJesus, and nobody mentioned the idea of trading Cano for him.

          “I had him last year in fantasy and he was borderline useless…despite his consistency with mediocrity and averageness.”

          We’ve had this conversation before… What you do with your fantasy team is utterly irrelevant.

          “somebody once put some of his stats side by side with Carl Crawford and talked about the similarities.”

          Yeah, that was me. That comment is right here in this conversation. If you want to argue with those numbers, go ahead, but don’t just mention it off-hand in order to be dismissive and not actually address the issue.

          “I just never understood it. He’s not bad by any means…I just never understood the hooplah over him.”

          There’s no hoopla. Pointing out that the guy is a decent player, or the similarities between his offensive numbers and another player’s, isn’t hoopla. Nobody’s claiming he’s some star player, or that the Yankees should trade Cano for him (at least, nobody’s suggesting that seriously, that I know of). I mean, I’m probably one of the more pro-DeJesus people around here, and even I haven’t gone much further than to call him “not too shabby.” If that’s hoopla, then I think we just disagree with what the term “hoopla” should refer to.

          • Rose says:

            I’m beginning to believe you just like arguing for the sake of arguing. What was the point of digging everything up? Just to prove me wrong? There was really no other reason. I’m almost positive you didn’t go digging because you wanted to help my case by any means.

            I wasn’t angry or “railing against nonexistent commenters”. I remembered certain conversations and talked about it without any substance. I just referenced something I remembered. If all you can find is something that you don’t consider to be the same thing I described…then ok? So what? I don’t know what to tell you.

            Listen, I know you’re not trying to purposely piss people off and neither am I…but there’s really no point of this unless you get some strange rise out of pointing out the short-comings in others.

            Whether or not David DeJesus on my fantasy team performed well or not is somewhat irrelevant to what I was talking about. The relevancy is where it was about David DeJesus and played as some form of support to my comment about his mediocrity. Regardless, your opinions on the matter are just as arbitrary.

            This wasn’t to offend you or anybody else…I just don’t see how it’s necessary to single out something you disagree with, dig deep, and play Judge Judy over. If you disagree or realize something isn’t there you can either ignore it…or kindly state your case without coming across as condescending. At least that’s how I took it.

            Hopefully we can move on past this as this certainly isn’t a response to go back and forth on. We can simply just learn from it I guess.

            • What was the point of digging everything up? Just to prove me wrong? There was really no other reason.

              The other reason: the accuracy of the historical record should be maintained. Don’t take it personal.

              • Rose says:

                I think there were people in here a while back who said they would have traded Cano for David DeJesus. I have always been entirely against that.

                All you had to say as a response was “I think you misunderstood” or “I don’t think that ever happened”

                I never said “I KNOW there were people in here a while back who said they would have traded Cano for DeJesus! I know it!!”

                Oh well.

            • “I’m beginning to believe you just like arguing for the sake of arguing. What was the point of digging everything up? Just to prove me wrong? There was really no other reason. I’m almost positive you didn’t go digging because you wanted to help my case by any means.”

              I dug that stuff up because you referred to it in your comment, so I clarified and corrected you. I didn’t go digging because I wanted to help your case, you’re totally right. I went digging to present a more accurate case than you presented. You would have no problem with my comment if I was agreeing with you, you just don’t like it because I showed why your comment was, in some ways, inaccurate.

              “I wasn’t angry or ‘railing against nonexistent commenters’.”

              I didn’t say you were angry, I don’t know where you got that. You did rail against non-existent commenters, though. You said there were people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus, and that you were against that. Those people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus are non-existent… Therefore, you were railing against non-existent comments.

              “I remembered certain conversations and talked about it without any substance. I just referenced something I remembered. If all you can find is something that you don’t consider to be the same thing I described…then ok? So what? I don’t know what to tell you.”

              So show me the conversations where people actually suggested that the Yankees should trade Cano for DeJesus. Otherwise, it seems like you’re just mistaken, or making it up, because I don’t remember those conversations and I didn’t see them when I did a quick search for them.

              “Whether or not David DeJesus on my fantasy team performed well or not is somewhat irrelevant to what I was talking about.”

              Agreed.

              “The relevancy is where it was about David DeJesus and played as some form of support to my comment about his mediocrity. Regardless, your opinions on the matter are just as arbitrary.”

              How are my opinions on the subject arbitrary? I provided statistical support for my arguments, while you provided the opinion that you don’t get why people like DeJesus because you didn’t like having him on your fantasy team. If you think my opinions on this matter are as arbitrary as yours, then I don’t think you understand what the word “arbitrary” means.

              “This wasn’t to offend you or anybody else…”

              I took offense to nothing that you said, I don’t know why anyone would have taken offense.

              “I just don’t see how it’s necessary to single out something you disagree with, dig deep, and play Judge Judy over. If you disagree or realize something isn’t there you can either ignore it…or kindly state your case without coming across as condescending. At least that’s how I took it.”

              So, you were the one who took offense, not me. You’re projecting.

              Read my comment, above, again. I never called you dumb, I just took your comments point by point and addressed the points you made. I’m sorry if you felt like I condescended to you, but that wasn’t my intent. My intent was just to address your points. I think you think I was condescending just because I disagreed with your points.

              I didn’t pick out this comment and respond to it just because I feel an overwhelming need to respond to things I disagree with… Trust me, if that was how I operated, I’d comment a lot more than I do. I picked this comment out and responded to it because you referred to comments I made in the past and because I disagreed with the things you said and knew I could show why you were wrong by pointing to the historical record and to past comments. I stated my case and, again, I’m sorry if you felt I was condescending, but the case still stands and I’m not sure how I could have stated it to be nicer to you. Really, if you thought my comment was condescending, then I think you might need to grow a thicker skin. I didn’t insult you in the least in that comment, I just addressed the things you wrote on the page.

              “Hopefully we can move on past this as this certainly isn’t a response to go back and forth on. We can simply just learn from it I guess.”

              I certainly hope so.

              • Rose says:

                I dug that stuff up because you referred to it in your comment, so I clarified and corrected you.

                Technically, all you proved was that you couldn’t find anything. There is no concrete evidence that you actually proved anything. In court, this probably would be thrown out without further investigation.

                You did rail against non-existent commenters, though. You said there were people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus, and that you were against that. Those people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus are non-existent… Therefore, you were railing against non-existent comments.

                No, you’re 100% wrong. I never said there WERE people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus. If you read what I wrote…I most certainly wrote “I THINK…” before hand. I never said “I know…” or anything of the sort. Starting it off with “I think…” pretty much means that “I could be wrong…I could be right…” You took it as if I said “I know there were people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus”. THAT never happened.

                So show me the conversations where people actually suggested that the Yankees should trade Cano for DeJesus.

                I never said for sure this happened. I said “I think…” I too couldn’t find anything when I attempted to look but I thought I remembered it happening. If it didn’t? It didn’t. It’s that simple.

                How are my opinions on the subject arbitrary? I provided statistical support for my arguments, while you provided the opinion that you don’t get why people like DeJesus because you didn’t like having him on your fantasy team.

                As I stated in a previous response, my comment on DeJesus regarding my fantasy team was a friendly and somewhat comical way of supporting my comment on his mediocrity. Your opinions on whether or not you think fantasy baseball statistics and personal preferences in an entirely separate conversation to anything you’re involved in isn’t really relevant to what we were talking about. We were talking about David DeJesus and his performance compared to Robinson Cano (whether or not a previous comparison ever existed). That being said, when it comes to Steve H and my conversation – David DeJesus Fantasy Stats > Honorable Mondesi’s views on whether fantasy stats are relevant.

                So, you were the one who took offense, not me. You’re projecting.

                When I said “This wasn’t meant to offend you or anyone else” it’s more of a “Please don’t take offense”. People say things in this way all of the time. It by no means ever means “I know you’re absolutely taking offense to this and you better not!” It’s a simple courtesy written so that IN CASE you WERE taking offense…please don’t because this was certainly not my intention.

                No projection of the sort. Did I take offense from what you said? Maybe. But there was absolutely no projection. You’re just trying to be clever in that regard.

                Anyway, it’s done.

                • The short version:

                  - I asked you to show where those conversations (Cano/DeJesus) happened, and you failed to do so. I looked and couldn’t find them. So if you thought they happened, it seems you thought wrong. I have no idea why court-admissibility is relevant… Like you always like to say, this is just an internet conversation.

                  - Ok. So you thought there were people who wanted to trade Cano for DeJesus. You thought wrong.

                  - I’m not saying “fantasy stats aren’t relevant.” Fantasy stats are the same as real-world stats, so clearly they’re not irrelevant… They’re just stats. I’m saying whether he was good enough to stay on your fantasy team is irrelevant.

                  - My favorite Rose-ism is the ‘I’m going to write a really long response and then at the end say ‘it’s done’ so that nobody responds to my long response and I get the last word’ thing.

                  - It’s done(?)

                • Rose says:

                  It’s done.

                  (hand shake)

                  [Rose leaves the door open for one more comment so he can prove he doesn't need the last word...and he would have left this one as Mondesi's last comment but he asked a question at the end so he felt the need to kindly respond]

          • Rose says:

            No to mention that you completely skipped over Steve H’s similar comment to mine saying:

            As far as Dejesus goes, I will never get the love affair some have with him, though I’m guessing it’s because he’s a New Yorker. Thank God no one that matters would have ever considered that trade.

            You were easily able to tuck that to the side…but when you read something similar from me (which was a response to what he started) then you had a bone to pick with me and decided it was time to show off a little bit.

            My point is it’s just not necessary.

            • Your comment was the original, Steve’s was just a response. I responded to yours because you were the one who first put that thought on the page and you said more about it than Steve did, even referring specifically to a comment I made (the DeJesus/Crawford comparison).

              You think I’m picking on you specifically, but I’m not. I barely ever respond to comments you post, I don’t know why you would think I’m specifically picking on you or make a it a habit to do so. You’re being paranoid.

              • Rose says:

                Rose says:
                March 8th, 2010 at 11:51 am
                My comment that DIDN’T have “hooplah” or any other references to people having a love affair over David DeJesus.

                Steve H says:
                March 8th, 2010 at 11:59 am
                Steve’s comment regarding him not understanding the love affair some have with David DeJesus.

                Rose says:
                March 8th, 2010 at 12:04 pm
                My comment regarding “hooplah” in response to Steve H’s comment regarding his view that some people have a love affair with David DeJesus.

                The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:
                March 8th, 2010 at 1:04 pm
                Your comment regarding my comment with hooplah in it.

                • Ugh, dude. I’m sorry you’re so worked up about this. Next time I’ll respond to someone else, I won’t bother with your comment, no matter how right or wrong it might be.

                • Rose says:

                  It’s not necessarily that…it’s just that there are thousands upon thousands of posts a day on here…and several are bound to have some form of tongue and cheek or personal opinions or what-have-you in there. As well as there already having been several posts this way. It just seemed as though you sat back like a rattlesnake choosing which ones you felt like dragging through the mud…while leaving several other similar style postings alone for reasons unknown. THAT is why I took it personally. It just seemed as though you had like a list of posters…waited for something in particular or until you were bored…and then struck accordingly.

                  That was merely my point of view at the time…that’s all. Anyway, we ended this. This post was actually before the handshake one.

                  Wrong or right…there are other ways to respond. Making people feel bad about themselves might be satisfying to you…but it doesn’t really solve anything that a simple “It seems you’ve misunderstood” or whatever could also accomplish.

                  Thanks all.

                  Anyway, have a nice rest of this beautiful day!

                • You’re right, there are a ton of posts here. Your post happened to directly reference a comment I made a while back and discussed a topic on which I’ve participated in a few conversations, and I thought your comment was inaccurate, so I joined this particular conversation in order to point out what I think are the more accurate points. I didn’t respond because you wrote it, I responded because your comment referred to my own comment and a conversation with which I’m familiar.

                  I will try to be more kind when dealing with you in the future so as not to hurt your feelings. I ask, in response, that you read my original topic in this conversation again with a calm and open mind, as I think you will see that I wasn’t mean and didn’t pick on you, but rather addressed your various points pretty dispassionately. Your gut reaction, when I responded to you, was that I was picking on you or trying to make you look bad. All I did was respond to a conversation that referred to a comment I made, and address the points you made one-by-one. When you have that gut reaction, I ask that you slow down, re-read the relevant post, and re-consider whether that gut reaction is (a) accurate and/or (b) something that should be discussed further.

        • Michael says:

          For Matt Kemp, I’d trade Cano.

    • Michael says:

      He has an effortless swing, and he had a great statistical year last year.

      He did do a little better at taking pitches, but it was clear that under pressure the pitcher had the advantage. He might want to ask Alex how he overcame his failures in key moments.

  3. No wonder Robbie struggled in RISP situations last year:

    Look at that picture. He’s not even swinging a full-sized bat.

    • Rose says:

      And no wonder Nick Swisher (top right) would hit more home runs on the road…he would use the on-deck circle as a toilet in away ballparks…

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        DAMMIT! i didnt see somebody already made that joke.

        i hate you, tjsc, i hate you!!! :)

  4. Steve H says:

    While Cano can be frustrating at times, he is a hell of a hitter with room for improvement. The good news is, that 5 full seasons into his career, 2008 is clearly the outlier, and while he hit better at home in 2009, he isn’t a product of YSIII, he gets it done on the road as well.

  5. r.w.g. says:

    Maybe he over thinks it at this point. Was he always bad with RISP, even in the minors?

    Maybe he is up there trying to erase the his RISP reputation with every opportunity.

  6. Rose says:

    It’s pretty amazing when you think about it…

    Robinson Cano hit .207/.242/.332 (.574) with RISP but still had 85 RBI. Imagine if he hit for average with RISP?

    Same with Nick Swisher. Only 7 out of his 29 HR came at home. Imagine if he were able to take advantage of YSIII like a lot of the others did last year?

    It could happen this year…

  7. theyankeewarrior says:

    10 reasons why Robinson Cano is lazy:

    1) When ranging for a ball up the middle, he never plants his right foot and throws. He just slings his arm underneath his glove-hand and hopes the ball gets to Tex.

    2) He spends his winters in the Dominican on the beach because it is warmer and more relaxing there

    3) He never works the count, often times swinging at the first pitch and lining out

    4) He hits outside pitches for doubles down the left-field line so he knows there is virtually no chance he will have to run all the way to third

    5) He never tries to steal second base because all he cares about is his BA, not producing runs

    6) He’s left handed at Yankee Stadium. You think that’s a coincidence? The wall is shorter in RF. If he was in the Sox system, he would have worked on his RH swing.

    7) Second base is one of the closest positions to the dugout, so he doesn’t have to run very far after every inning. Catcher, Pitcher and 1B are closer, but they all take more effort to play, and first base is involved in EVERY ground ball out, plus they have to take all those throws from the mound when runners are on.

    8) He hits .320 and is still 7th in the order. On most teams, he would be second. Obviously because he doesn’t want to make as many plate appearances.

    9) He refuses to learn the English language. He constantly says “dey” instead of “they”

    10) When he warms up with Jeter before the games, he makes Jeter scale all the way out into RF while he just chews his sunflower seeds and camps out near home plate where all the fans can see him.

  8. Hughesus Christo says:

    He’llbebetternowthatmelkyisn’taroundtohookhimupwithwasheduppornstars

    I had to.

  9. bexarama says:

    Great write-up. Those HR spray charts are interesting. Did anyone see on 30 Clubs in 30 Days when they asked him about how the Yankees’ championships coming in bundles? ADORABLE.

    Anyway, this entire post: Jakebait?

  10. Chris says:

    Will the real Robinson Cano please stand up?

    Nah. He’s too lazy.

  11. king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

    lets be honest…if dude used a better bat than the one in that picture, he’d have hit 50 HR…he needs a bat with a barrel on it.

  12. Tank Foster says:

    He might be lazy. Again….gotta be said. While it’s certainly possible, even likely, that many people might have pre-formed, stereotype-influenced opinions of Robbie, the fact that such stereotypes exist doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the possibility that a given person is lazy or not. The stereotypes tell us about the person who is influenced by them (the fan or sportswriter, in this case), they don’t tell us anything about the subject (Cano). It is possible that he doesn’t work enough at what he needs to work at, or isn’t disciplined enough, etc.

    Do I think he’s lazy and undisciplined? No. But I allow that he might be.

    I do think that his problem with RISP, being a pretty longstanding problem, must be a mental thing.

    What kind of mental thing? I’m not a head shrinkah, so I won’t go any further.

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