What Went Right: Robinson Cano


Over the next few weeks we’re going to spend some time reviewing the entire 2012 season, which featured another division title and unfortunately another disappointing playoff exit.

That swing. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Despite all of the attention given to the pitching staff in the offseason, the Yankees actually came into the season with more questions in the batter’s box than on the mound. Would Curtis Granderson hit for the same kind of power? Would Derek Jeter continue his second half resurgence? Would Alex Rodriguez stay healthy? Would Mark Teixeira reverse his downward trend? We could go on and on, but the one position player who came into the year with no concerns was Robinson Cano.

At age 29, Cano was New York’s best hitter and best all-around player for the third consecutive season. He also indisputably established himself as the best second baseman in baseball as Ian Kinsler’s performance took a step back and both Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia continued to battle injuries. Robbie entered his peak and became a legitimate MVP-caliber player in 2010, sustained that performance in 2011, and actually managed to crank it up a notch in 2012.

Cano played in at least 159 games for the sixth consecutive year (he played in 161 games in 2012) and either set or tied career-highs in doubles (48), homers (33), runs (105), total walks (61), unintentional walks (51), ISO (.238), SLG (.550), OPS (.929), OPS+ (149), wOBA (.394), wRC+ (150), bWAR (8.2), and fWAR (7.8). The two WAR totals place him second and fourth in all of baseball (including pitchers), respectively. All told, Robinson hit a marvelous .313/.379/.550 overall — including an insane .359/.423/.685 against righties, a 196 wRC+ that was the best in baseball by 20 (!) points (Mike Trout was second at 176) — and led the Yankees in almost every meaningful offensive category.

Down the stretch in September, when the Bombers were trying to fend off the Orioles for the division crown, Cano was at his absolute best. He closed the regular season out with nine consecutive multi-hit games (one shy of the franchise record), going 24-for-39 (.615) with seven doubles and three homers in the nine games. The Yankees went 6-3 in that stretch to clinch the division title. Robbie hit .347/.418/.581 overall in September and .335/.408/.589 in the club’s final 40 games. New York blew a ten-game division lead to the Orioles but never actually fell out of first place, and Cano’s production was a big reason why.

Obviously Robbie absolutely stunk in the postseason, there’s no denying that. He was the worst offender in a lineup that completely disappeared in the ALCS (and to a lesser extent, the ALDS), but those nine games in October aren’t nearly enough to nullify his regular season contributions. Cano was one of the five best players in baseball this season (at worst) and the Yankees don’t even sniff the postseason without him. He’s been their best and most important player for three years running, and considering that he just turned 30 earlier this week, Robinson will be expected to be the same massively productive player in 2013.

Categories : Players


  1. brian says:

    what were his numbers with RISP again?

  2. 28 in 2013 says:

    Dude cant even run out a ground ball. Sucked against lefties. Sucked in a post season. Socked with risp.
    Hopefully 2013 is the last year I have to see this RAB MVP on the team. He can take Boras and they can both go to hell.


  3. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Clearly, Mike, you’re not getting with the narrative. This post should obviously be entitled “Robinson Cano: Worst player of all time, or worst player ALL the time?”

    • 28 in 2013 says:

      Considering how much Mike appreciates character, the love affair with this guy is puzzling.
      To me he is Manny Ramirez jr. at this point. He will quit on a team one day soon.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I was being sarcastic. I wonder what says about my character.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Considering how much Mike appreciates character…

        You must have me confused for someone else. Mike is a popular name, after all.

        • 28 in 2013 says:

          How do yo feel about Delmon Young? no?
          What about AJ Perzinsky?

          You loved you some Gary Sheffield back in a day too…

          • Mike Axisa says:

            How do yo feel about Delmon Young?

            Threw a bat at an umpire and beat up some Jewish guys at a hotel.

            What about AJ Perzinsky?

            Has gotten into physical altercations with teammates several times.

            You loved you some Gary Sheffield back in a day too…

            Forced trades by throwing balls into the stands, also had altercations with teammates.

            So what does any of this have to do with Cano?

            • 28 in 2013 says:

              I must have had the right Mike afterall!

              All Im saying is that Cano is turning into Manny. Im glad he is not beating up on jewish kids and getting into fist fights in the dugout, but if you see him as a hustler than its cool. Im sure you need to prepare yourself to write about him for the next decade so you have to stay positive.
              I understand.

            • Mr. Sparkle says:

              Unfortunately, to some people, the fact that Cano is streaky and doesn’t emulate Derek Jeter’s hustle while running out routine grounders to short is worse than any of the things you mentioned about the other players above.

              I still have yet to hear ANYONE who is so down on Robbie suggest a realistic replacement for him or his production.

              • 28 in 2013 says:

                I guess thats what the Yankees thought about the 3rd base at the end of 2007? Nice call.

                • Mr. Sparkle says:

                  What’s your point? When Alex initially opted-out, the Yankees were already lining up possible replacements, most notably Pedro Feliz who they saw as a Charlie Hayes-type. I still have yet to hear ANYONE suggest a realistic replacement for Robinson. I hear a lot of bellyaching about how some people don’t think he tries or cares, but nobody offering a name of who replaces him. I guess those people would prefer a gaping hole at second base and an eight man lineup?

            • Jobu says:

              You are really letting Sheff off easy.

          • Winter says:

            To be fair, theres a difference between caring about character and caring about complete asshole-ness. General nonchalance is nearly the same as what Young and Pierzynski have going on.

            • Mr. Sparkle says:

              Last time I checked, no athlete has ever had to face a judge due to perceived nonchalance. Nor has it ever resulted in a suspension by their league or team.

              • Jobu says:

                Last I checked no player ever faced a judge for putting icy hot on his “boys” to get an extra edge during the game. Such a player may end up facing a judge later for lying about PED use, but that was because he was willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the team. So in closing, Robinson Cano is very good at baseball.

  4. effthisnoise says:

    Cano is a beast and we still haven’t seen the best of him. Yes he had a horrible post season, but what he did down the stretch was a big reason the team MADE the post season. Those numbers on any other team make him a superstar, on the Yankees people act like he’s a bum. If this was a free agency year for him and he had spent all this time in LA or Philly or anywhere else, this entire board would be screaming to sign him.

    • Bill says:

      totally agree, what he did down the stretch was incredible…

      too bad in the postseason he didn’t have pitchers putting the ball on a tee for him, letting him hit bombs to right every at bat…

  5. Rich in NJ says:

    He’ll probably be here until he’s 40, so we need all the positive spin we can get.

  6. Bill says:

    Cano might be the best yankee at stat padding against crappy pitching that i’ve ever seen…. his performance in the final 2 weeks against pitchers going through the motions versus his performance in the postseason was surreal

    even arod in his early years wasn’t this blatant

    Cano, in 51 career postseason games, has a OBP of something like .268 he’s an out machine against good pitching… but he’s still this team’s best player

    that’s baseball for ya

    • The Guns of Navarone says:

      Trade Cano! Sign Marco Scutaro!

    • The Guns of Navarone says:

      Cano vs Hellickson .333, 2 2B, 2 HR
      vs Greinke .375, 3B
      vs Holland .368, 3 XBH
      vs Weaver .375, 3B
      vs Wilson .348, 2B
      vs Garza .345, 3 2B, 2 HR
      vs Hernandez .366, 2 2B, 2 HR
      vs Shields .413, 8 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR!!!

      Minimum 18 PA. That’s a list of some of the games top pitchers that Cano hits very, very well, including two lefties. Of course, he doesn’t have great numbers against ALL of the games best pitchers. That would be ridiculous. But this is far from stat-padding.

      • jjyank says:

        I was in the middle of doing the same research, you beat me to it. I’m not sure why Cano is now being labeled as a “stat padder”. I guess if we’re assuming Swisher walks, some will need a new player to bitch about.

      • Captain says:

        this might be the best reply ever on here. now for the spinning of the facts to follow

  7. Mr. Sparkle says:

    Here’s what I’ve always noticed about critiquing Cano. When he’s going good, the general praise is that, “he does it so effortlessly.” When he’s going bad, the general complaints are that, “he never seems to show any effort.”

    The problem with Cano is that he’s incredibly streaky…like a lot of players on this team. Still, I’d take him over just about any second baseman in the majors right now. The only other second basemen I’d rank near him would be Brandon Phillips and maybe Dustin Pedroia. You’d do well to have any of those three on your team and the Yankees are fortunate to be one of those.

    • 28 in 2013 says:

      Pretty sure Phillips and Pedroia together would cost you less than what the Yankees are going to pay Cano.

      • Mr. Sparkle says:

        If either of them were playing in New York for their entire careers, they’d be commanding the same amount of money by now. It’s not exactly a state secret that the Yankees are going to pay a premium because of who and where they are.

        • 28 in 2013 says:

          only neither one has Scott Boras as their agent.

          • Mike HC says:

            I don’t see the Yanks just paying Cano whatever he wants. So much can change over the course of next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a legit negotiation and testing of the market.

            • 28 in 2013 says:

              Next regular season is going to be his best no doubt. He will work hard in his walk year. Just like arod in 2007.

              Does anyone see Robbie play hard after the new deal?
              Truly honestly just think about it. Dude barely runs down the line now, $200 million later?

              • Mike HC says:

                I like the fact that he has been working out with Ortiz during the past couple of off seasons and generally becoming close friends with him. Ortiz is a great mentor to have and I think Cano will mirror his work ethic regardless of contract. Ortiz doesn’t run out every grounder either. I prefer guys to hustle to first on every play as well, but it just seems it is not a realistic expectation and if you take a hard line with that, you will lose 75% of the players or more.

                • 28 in 2013 says:

                  Well, his own manager suggested that he quit on the team. This is kind of what Im saying.
                  Ortiz is never happy, and Robbie is nowhere near the masher Pappi is. Ortiz can take a walk.
                  Cano will digress at 2b and then what will be the team left with? Another platoon guy that used to be a star?

                  • Mike HC says:

                    Ownership quit on the team long before Ortiz did. If the Yanks all of sudden punt a season, I would have no problem with a superstar sitting out the last month or so when he was just on the DL.

                    But overall, I respect Ortiz, his ethic and style of play. And think it is a fair comparable for Cano. If you don’t like the Ortiz style, then I can see you wouldn’t like Cano’s either.

                    As for predicting his decline, I personally think he will stay a good player until 35-36. So I would offer a contract in line with that thinking.

                • Pat D says:

                  Yea, the great big fat fuck who whines about every called strike and still won’t own up to using PED’s is a great mentor.

                • Mr. Sparkle says:

                  Know what I love about the “Cano never hustles” crowd? If the umpire gets the call right in the second inning of Game One of the ALCS, Cano would have been praised for his hustle down the line. Instead, the ump gets the call wrong (which replay clearly showed) and now Cano’s a lazy bum again who didn’t hustle enough.

              • Mr. Sparkle says:

                Yes. He’s one of the few players on this team I would want in pinstripes for years to come. As I stated in another post, when he’s going bad, the knock is that he doesn’t show any effort. When he’s mashing, the praise is that he does it effortlessly. Yes, his lack of apparent all-out Jeter-style hustle can be frustrating at times, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything even near a replacement for him, whether at the plate or in the field. There are few second baseman in baseball who are Gold Glove caliber AND are top offensive players. Forget just now, but in history.

                At least in 2007 with your Alex Rodriguez comparison, the Yankees already had some replacements lined up, including Pedro Feliz who they saw as a Charlie Hayes-type. He may not have put up huge numbers but would have caught most balls, made the throws and been a decent 6 or 7 hitter.

                I still haven’t heard you or anyone else suggest who’s going to play second base should the Yankees let Cano walk.

  8. prq says:

    dont kill me – first post- but what if they were to trade cano – since the brass is deadset for Yankee austerity in 2014. could the yanks get a lot for him? I think his value is limited with only one year until free agency. maybe a young power hitting catcher with a swing made for the Stadium.

    • Mike HC says:

      I think the Yanks would be looking for 2 stud prospects and a couple of other mid level guys if they do look to trade him (I highly doubt he gets traded). Other teams would probably look to give just one stud prospect with 3-4 secondary guys. Just my guess.

      I definitely wouldn’t trade him. If the Yanks are so set on this new budget, and with ARod being seemingly untradable, maybe Tex would be the right guy to deal.

  9. Pat D says:

    I can only assume the next post in this series will be “What Went Wrong: Robinson Cano in the Playoffs.”

  10. Brandon W says:

    I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but is there any chance that Cano’s seeming lack of hustle is actually a good thing in the long run? Not that I’m actually accusing him of being lazy, but there are certainly times he doesn’t 100% it out of the box, he dives for plays in the field a less than some second basemen, etc. In the long run, though, this could save a lot of the wear and tear common to middle infielders.

    I’d rather have 161 games of a Cano that might have eeked out an extra infield single or made an extra out here and there than 140 games of Cano that makes the extra play but forces you into 20 more games of Nunez or Nix as a replacement when he goes on the DL.

    • Mike HC says:

      There is no doubt that is the reason he is doing it. To preserve his body and giving himself a better chance at a long career. Also, the reality is, when negotiating contracts, teams don’t give you credit for playing ultra hard, but only playing 120-130 games a year being injured all the time. Playing 160+ is what makes money.

      • 28 in 2013 says:

        Playing to a contract and preservation and not to win maybe ok for players union but to me it baloney.
        Sounds like the guys who hustle dont have long careers or sign good contracts?

        • Mike HC says:

          In a perfect world, I agree with you. I just think it is not realistic to ask these players to sacrifice their longevity and body on every single play. Maybe my expectations are too low, but I think being hardline like that in this day and age with only lose you your team. Kind of like Coughlin needing to lighten up a little in order to improve his coaching. You gotta adjust to the modern day players.

          • 28 in 2013 says:

            Mike I admire you and your ability to adjust to the modern age baseball.
            Maybe Jeter would still have a good ankle if it wasnt for his hustle. Maybe Tex would have played more games if he didnt run out that bad call.
            But as a kid you learn to run out every ball and it sticks.

            I work in the office. If I told my boss I need to pull my chair away from my desk for a few hours a day to preserve my eyes, it would be not good.

            I just wonder what Gerardi thinks of Robbie’s self preservation. He doesnt seem to mind as long as he doesnt talk to girls from the dugout.

            If cano signs long term, he will have to become a leader. Can you see Robbie the leader of the Yankees?

            • Mike HC says:

              But if you did take that break and your production was still the best or among the best in the office, your boss would say to himself and probably you “I don’t like how you take breaks, but I can’t argue with your production.”

              Either way, I was always the hustle type, and shake my head all the time at Cano’s lack of hustle down the line.

      • Mikhel says:

        I don’t think that’s the reason, he has never played giving his 100%.

        If he decides to play in the World Baseball Classic we might as well see him play like he is supposed to, just because stuff like not hustling grounders, doesn’t fly with the caribbean style of play. Either you give your full effort or don’t even dream about being selected to play for México, Dominicana, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.

    • jjyank says:

      I don’t think it’s at all crazy to think that. It very well might be the case.

  11. Stevis says:

    worst article i have read from this site
    Cano is a lazy douchbag
    if he put his talent together with a little hustle (actually alot of hustle )he would be great.
    It will never happen, he will always be an “almost” player
    Could you imagine Jeter not hustling ???????
    and as far as the comment trying to elongate his career…are you kidding…this kid is the dullest knife in the draw

  12. WhittakerWalt says:

    You guys are going to feel like such idiots if Robbie walks and we’re stuck with another Ramiro Pena or something playing second.

    • jjyank says:

      This. The amount of hate in this thread is pretty absurd.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      Given the current market or any players available via trade, Ramiro Pena would probably be the BEST case scenario. But, since Robbie doesn’t hustle, I suppose people think it would be better to have an average fielding second baseman who hits .245 with 3 HR and 40 RBI…but hustles down the line on every ground ball.

      • 28 in 2013 says:

        You wouldnt had been ready for Cano when he joined the team with your perception. He was a Corbin Joseph with some unspectacular AAA experience.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Cano hit .333/.368/.574 in Triple-A before being called up.

        • jjyank says:

          Oh come on. When Cano came up, there wasn’t a superstar blocking him. Much easier to bring up an unspectacular prospect when there’s nobody of value there.

          And because Cano wasn’t highly heralded, this means that Joseph can be an above average player too? Or you know, Joseph could bomb, and Cano will be gone and the Yankees will be screwed there.

        • Mr. Sparkle says:

          Actually, NO. I was calling for him to get a shot out of spring training at the time. I was never a fan of even the thought of Tony Womack at second base. And that’s ignoring the fact that he was more of a prospect than Corbin Joseph ever was or probably will be.

    • Mikhel says:

      That was basically what people tought when Soriano was move, but hey! Canó was actually good.

      In the short term the NYY already had a young crop of talent ready to take over as soon as they were ready, but our brainy GM decided to trade AJax and Montero, so now they have to plug those holes and re-sign Canó to a bloated contract because the yanks don’t have young talent.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        Ajax has had ONE good year. Montero has had NONE. Let’s not go crazy about all the great young talent the Yankees are refusing to play.

        I think it’s insane watching all these supposed Yankee diehard fans going “they should just play the kids!,” as if the kids are actually Major League caliber players.

        If these fans gripe this much about making it to the ALCS and getting bounced, imagine how they’d be if we fielded a team of “kids” that went out and lost 90 games a year. Something tells me these fans would lose their boner for the Youth Movement right quick.

  13. Captain says:

    the comments on this article make me wonder if people actually enjoy watching baseball or just calling in to WFAN and going online to complain.
    without Cano’s lack of hustle and hitting of crap pitchers only, Jeter’s ankle would still be ok because the Yankees wouldn’t have been in the playoffs. good thing the Yankees have the worst top 10 player in MLB in the middle of their lineup.

  14. LarryM., Fl. says:

    Robbie Cano is by far the most talented player on the Yankees. He uses his talents to their fullest. By this I mean when he’s at the plate, I’m sure he’s trying to get a hit. When he’s in the field you can’t get a better fielder. When he makes the pivot its a bit unorthodox but gets the job done with some flair. It won’t change and transfers will be dropped as in the ALCS with Cabrera sliding into second.

    Do I dislike Cano’s apparent lack of hustle. Yes I do. There were a few times Cano could have had a hit or been safe at first if he hustled. When he throws his helmet down in disgust when called out on a close play. The umpires are just using the knowledge of the lack of hustle to call him out on close plays. If he busted it down the line close plays may go his way on occasion. He doesn’t break 4.5 from the left side which puts no pressure on the defense.

    Do I want Cano traded, No. But I don’t want a contract more than 5@100 million. Robbie has much value and if Cashman is unable to work out an extension then Robbie should be sold to the highest bidder. An extension should be worked on to get a feel for Boras and Robbie’s direction. I do believe Robbie needs some rest during the season. Playing and average of 159 games is way too much. Maybe a few days off would provide an energy boost to him.

  15. Get Phelps Up says:

    I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when I saw the comment count for this thread.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      Yes…it’s amazing that you get swept unceremoniously in the ALCS and lay an egg overall offensively in the postseason and many people’s first priority is to get rid of possibly the best offensive second baseman in the majors…who’s also a Gold Glove caliber fielder with a cannon arm. I guess the answer is to replace him with a .230 hitter who hustles down the line on his many ground outs.

      I know I’m repeating myself a lot, but I’m truly amazed that of all the underperforming players on this year’s team, so much of the wrath is focused on Cano. A lot of the players on this team have fallen on their faces EVERY year in the postseason. Cano is NOT one of those guys. This year, yes. Other years, no.

      • 28 in 2013 says:

        Because no one else hired Scott Boras and is looking for an Arod contract.
        Do you think I would care if Cano had 4 years of arb coming up?
        Havnt you learned with Arod? Remember there were no replacements for him either.. Look now, Chavez playing in the post season.

        Who is going to lead this team? This lazy pos?

  16. beachbum says:

    Marco Scutaro for 2nd base! He’s gritty . . . and clutch!

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