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.