Apr
17

Robinson Cano’s Slow Start

By

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Curtis Granderson had the better offensive season in 2011, but Robinson Cano has established himself as the Yankees’ best all-around player over the last two or three years. He’s hit for average, hit for power, played solid defense, and has remained on the field. Cano’s basically done everything a team could ask its best player to do. Ten games into this season, things has been a bit different however.

Cano, who turns 30 in October, is sitting on a .244/.340/.341 batting line (.313 wOBA) through 47 plate appearances at the moment. He has played every inning of every game so far, and seven of his ten hits have come in just three games. He had a three-hit game against the Orioles last week, and two-hit games against both the Rays and Angels. Cano’s four hitless games this April already exceeds his total from last April (three). He hasn’t hit a homer yet either, and when you look at his batted ball profile, it’s no wonder why…

For whatever reason, Robbie’s been beating the ball into the ground in the early going (57.9 GB%). All four of Cano’s doubles have been rockets down the line, not shots into the gap like we’re used to seeing. That line drive stroke* we’ve become so accustomed to just isn’t quite there yet.

* The batted ball date from Baseball Info Solutions isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to differentiating between line drives and fly balls.

One thing Cano has done very well in the early going is walk, which isn’t exactly his forte. Robinson has drawn six unintentional walks already this season, something that took him 174 plate appearances to accomplish last season. He also isn’t striking out, with just three whiffs in the ten games so far. Cano’s always been a low strikeout guy because he puts the ball in play so easily, but even his currently rate is amazingly low. He’s seen an average of 3.51 pitches per plate appearance this season, the most of his career but not exactly an astronomical number. Maybe pitchers are pitching around him a bit more, who knows. It’s too early to say.

A slow start ten games into the season is hardly anything to be concerned about. Cano hit .189/.250/.324 during a ten-game stretch last May and no one said a thing because we barely noticed. These things happen during the course of the summer, but because it’s happening at the start of the season, it stands out a little bit more. With Robbie, it stands out even more because he’s such a great hitter and also because he’s come out of the gate on fire in each of the last two seasons — .417 wOBA last April and .497 in April 2010. At some point, hopefully soon, Cano will get back to being the hitter he’s been over the last two years and we’ll hardly remember this little season-opening hiccup.

Categories : Offense
  • Kvothe

    Color me concerned if he’s still struggling in May. He’ll turn it around.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    He needs to continue drawing walks. If he does that, he’ll end up having an even better year. But if the people around him continue to hit like garbage, he won’t see but 2 or 3 strikes per month.

  • thenamestsam

    I’m wondering if the pressure of being “the guy” is getting to him a little bit. This is really the first time he has had to carry the mantle as the Yankees best player. Throughout most of last year he was secondary to Granderson, and before that ARod and others. It wasn’t until late last year with the move to the 3 spot in the order that the narrative seemed to coalesce around him being the main man.

    Usually I try to avoid speculating on the mental side of things, but this was motivated by my observation (not a scout disclaimer) that he is swinging for the fences more in the early going than he was even last year. He looks like he is trying to pull a lot more balls, and that may be resulting in him rolling over to the right side more than in the past.

    • Mike HC

      I too clearly have no clue if he is pressing or not, but Cano has done a ton of appearances of tv shows, commercials and probably other stuff that on a level he has never done before. There is no doubt that Cano’s responsibility and expectations have increased over these past 6 months or so.

      Is he pressing because of it? I don’t know, probably not. He will probably go 4/4 tonight with a homer and double and all of a sudden his numbers look just fine.

  • What the Kruk?

    I’m more concerned w/being randomly attacked by a Big Foot than I am about Cano.

    The dude was born to play baseball.

    • Gonzo

      When I was playing high school football, my coach told us about a star running back on the other team. He told us that he was born with cleats on. I kept thinking, that must have really hurt for his mom.

      Yeah, I’m not worried either. Looking at his BABIP, and plate discipline ( http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....discipline ), it looks like something is going on that is just an aberration, but I am too lazy to think it out.

      • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

        I hear crickets.

        • Slugger27

          shut the window.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    He was my first pick in my fantasy draft, that’s the problem.

    • Gonzo

      I made it late to my draft and auto drafted Ellsbury.

      • jjyank

        Ouch that sucks. I got J. Upton with my first pick and still managed to snag Votto in the early second round!

  • Kevin G.

    Cano, who turns 30 in October,

    What?

    • Gonzo

      Feel old yet?

      • Kevin G.

        Considering I’m not even in my 20s yet… no.

        • Gonzo

          Damn, I feel old.

    • Slugger27

      ….

      what?

  • NotMicah

    Wasn’t his double Sunday night not a rocket down the line?

  • dean

    I think the walks are up a bit in part because against RHP he’s being pitched around often to get to the subject of the previous post.

    • Havok9120

      He’s also not swinging at things he normally would. I’m sure part of it is the pitchers’ approach, but he’s had a different approach as well.

  • spectra

    It’s the curse of the HOMERUN DERBY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dropped Third

    Cano will heat up by May, his swing is too good for him not to and also the 6BB’s and 3k’s are pretty encourging.

  • Voice of Reason

    More contact, more grounders, no power to speak of…perhaps he’s swinging less hard? Whatever it is, here’s to stopping.

  • Samuel

    “For whatever reason, Robbie’s been beating the ball into the ground in the early going (57.9 GB%). All four of Cano’s doubles have been rockets down the line, not shots into the gap like we’re used to seeing.”

    Becasue Cano has not been keeping his hands inside the ball, but has been pulling out his front shoulder, then rolling over his wrists during his swing. Normally, Cano pops his hands up the middle right at the pitcher all the way through contact, but has been pulling off the ball.

    Result of wrist rolling and pulling off the ball are almost always a ground ball to the right side (for a lefty hitter) or a pop up the other way.

    That is also the difference between the balls hit into the corner and the gap shots he usually hits.