Cano remains productive amid slump


(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The last two days are just what Robinson Cano has needed. For months he’d seen his numbers steadily fall from his peak of .321/.382/.587 on July 16th. After going 0 for 4 on Monday Cano’s numbers had declined to .293/.362/.519 — good by any measure, great when compared to other second basemen*. Those numbers even compare favorably to Cano’s 2010 season. But after a torrid couple of months, we’d come to expect a bit more out of Cano.

*The average AL 2B hits .249/.310/.372.

Since that peak period in mid-July, Cano has hit .264/.345/.436 in 281 PA. That’s more than a third of the season, though those are just arbitrary end points. He has had some super productive stretches inside that 281 PA sample; from July 31 through August 16, for instance, he hit .321/.429/.547 in 63 PA. He also started off September not so horribly, hitting .275/.383/.550 from the first through the 12th. But that means he also had some pretty poor stretches in that period.

Yet even in those unproductive periods he has managed to keep his overall numbers in decent shape. For instance, from August 17th through the 31st he hit .245/.327/.469. During that stretch he walked six times (one intentional), good for an 11 percent walk rate. From the 13th through the 24th he was particularly bad, going 8 for 45 with just two extra base hits, but he again walked six times, good for an 11.75 percent walk rate. Even when he’s played poorly this year, Cano has remained somewhat productive for doing what he’s failed to do for most of his career: work a walk.

After a hot start in 2011 — .320/.340/.630 through May 1 — Cano slowed down considerably. In his next 143 PA he hit .237/.294/.405, walking just six times in that span. In September 2010, when he had a shot to steal the MVP with Josh Hamilton on the shelf, he hit .262/.304/.346 in 115 PA. That was just a 5 percent walk rate. Combined with the complete lack of power, it led to a considerable drop in his numbers and his removal from serious consideration for MVP. We needn’t even explore his pre-2010 career to find slumps where he not only hit for a low average, but also didn’t walk. Before 2010 Cano hardly walked at all: a mere 4.2 percent rate through 3036 PA.

One of Cano’s biggest changes in 2010 was his walk rate, which jumped to 8.2 percent. Of course, with his new spot in the middle of the order he was also intentionally walked far more often. That year pitchers passed on him 14 times; his previous career high was five, in 2007. Still, he did see his unintentional walk rate rise from 4.2 percent in 2009 to 6.2 percent in 2010. But in 2011 that dropped all the way to 4 percent. This year, while he’s been intentionally walked 10 times, he still has a 7.5 percent unintentional walk rate. It has helped keep him reasonably productive even when he’s not hitting for average or power.

For the first five years of his career, Cano was a guy who could hit with the best of them, but whose slumps hurt the team for stretches. When he slumped he did nothing productive; he didn’t hit for average or power, and he didn’t get on base. Even in 2010 and 2011 he still had trouble with taking passes amid slumps. Perhaps now, as he approaches age 30, Cano’s game has matured a bit. Even when he has slumped this year he’s managed to take walks and keep his numbers out of the gutter amid slumps. It doesn’t completely make up for the disappointment in his declining numbers since mid-July, but it’s certainly something positive he contributed amid that decline.

Categories : Offense


  1. jjyank says:

    …..great…he can walk sometimes now…..throw him a parade….

    …..give him a raise…..

  2. JoeyA says:

    So, what Joe is saying is…10/200?

  3. And now two for Joe today.

    Between Mike’s reminiscing Twitter post last night, and Joe’s revival today, something’s up with the RAB.

    Something good.

  4. The Guns of Navarone says:

    I’m too busy at work to look this up but I would be interested to see if you could split up his plate discipline and swing numbers by month. I feel like Cano swings at absolutely everything when he’s slumping and gets himself out more often than having the pitcher make a good pitch. So I would be interested to see if the increased walk rates during hitting slumps is actually the result of increased plate discipline or simply a random fluctuation.

  5. Darren says:

    Honestly, the people who give Cano shit for not taking enough walks don’t know the first thing about baseball. Seriously. You might think you do because you read Moneyball, but you don’t. Cano is one of the best players of his generation. He is on pace to be an all time Yankee great and a first ballot Hall of Famer. try and appreciate the elite tools like his top tier power and amazing glovework and most importantly, pound for pound the best arm you’ve ever seen.

    • Kosmo says:

      thanks Darren for exactly echoing my sentiments.

    • Slugger27 says:

      the best arm ive ever seen…….. pound for pound?


      • The Guns of Navarone says:

        Robinson Cano = Julio Cesar Chavez

      • Darren says:

        Meaning, it’s certainly the best infielder’s arm I’ve ever seen. Hard to directly judge him against outfielder’s arms, but if an outfielder had a comparative arm to Cano’s, he’d be able to throw absolute lasers from the outfield wall to the plate.

        I can’t think of a more impressive tool/talent in MLB right now than Cano’s quickness in throwing the ball to first (especially across his body) or to home on a relay throw.

        • MannyGeee says:

          Pound for Pound doesnt even remotely mean that! FWIW I agree with your sentiment, just not with your analrapy.

          • Darren says:

            Sure it does! It means that while a decent but not amazing heavyweight could kick the ass of the middle weight champ because of the inequality in weight classes, the middle weight might still be a better fighter when judged against his own natural competiton because he is more skilled.

            • Slugger27 says:

              well, that’s what the term pound for pound means sure… that doesn’t mean the analogy makes any sense in this context.

              we can all agree cano has a great arm, lets just drop it.

    • Rocky Road Redemption says:

      You didn’t really back this opinion up with facts.

      • Darren says:

        .300+ average
        3,000 hits
        600 doubles
        300 home runs
        1500 RBI
        WRC+ of 121

        From the best defensive second baseman in the game.

        Stupid UZR only gives him 6.1 this year (STAT FAIL).

        Sorry, I don’t know how you have a stat that mesasures

        6.2 WAR this year, which undervalues him, in my expert opinion.

        • Rocky Road Redemption says:

          I’m confused with how this relates to your post.

          • Darren says:

            You asked me to back up my opinion with fact.

            I took Cano’s current numbers and roughly extrapolated them to arrive at his estimated his career totals, which show him to be an historically great, Hall of Fame player.

            Basically, I’m saying, stop complaining about the equivalent of Whitey Ford’s bad pickoff move.

            [Disclaimer: Whitey had a great pickoff move, but if he
            had a bad one, you shouldn't complain about it.]

            • Rocky Road Redemption says:

              Extrapolating his numbers and assuming they’ll hold true for a career doesn’t really work in real life, because we have no idea if he’s going to fall off a cliff (as middle infielders tend to do) or get injured (as baseball players tend to do).

              Your point about walks is well made because Cano is a great player anyway, but saying he’s one of the greatest players of his generation is something we just don’t know.

  6. Kosmo says:

    pitchers have been pitching Cano down and away while changing speeds. Cano tries to pull the ball to much which might account for his high GIDP totals this year. If he took the down and away pitches to the opposite field more, which he´s quite capable of doing, pitchers would have to readjust.

  7. robert heenan says:

    Cano learned how to walk, good for him, my four year-old learned how to walk years ago.

  8. Cliff says:

    So now we have two posts written within a week, one saying Cano is slumping due to his lack of selectivity and plate discipline, and the other praising him for his new-found plate discipline amidst his slump…

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Written by different people.

      Sites, publications, etc., often presents different points of view. That’s not a bad thing.

  9. Frank Messer says:

    I agree – he lets his slumps last too long to warrant drowing him in so much cash. Is there a measurement of whether the pain his slumps casue the team outweight the joy his hot streaks bring everyone?

  10. Eric Schultz says:

    Cano’s dropoff against lefties this year is pretty startling, I’m not sure what that can be attributed to.

  11. RetroRob says:

    He’s too good a hitter to be so streaky, yet it’s all related to his plate discipline.

    If he gets hot now through October, none of this will be remembered. Mostly.

    • Bababoey to y'all! says:

      Cano will never win a batting championship because he has such prolonged slumps. I also don’t see any of that killer instinct that you see in guys like our Captain or Tex. WOuld Billy martin or Lou Linella put up with his lack of Hustle on every hit like the Capt?

      I have to admit I sometimes think that maybe I’d prefer a guy like Padroia but that’s going to far, lol. The thing is he isn’t smooth like Cano but he is a gritty player who will do what ever it takes. Hes the opposite of Cano. But honestly, I really enjoy watching Cano play in the field and when hes hitting, well. Yanks fans should feel lucky to get to watch him play. Unfortunately he has quirks that ruin it and its not the Yankee way to not hustle.

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