Cano’s Hot Start

Certain proclamations and projections seem to follow players around. Take Robinson Cano. It seems futile to watch a national broadcast and expect to not hear the announcer talk about Cano is a future batting title winner. Where that sentiment came from is unknown, but it stuck to Cano. The oddest part of that assumption is that Cano’s minor league batting average is .278, and in Triple-A it was only .284. In fact, he never topped .300 throughout a full season until a shortened 2005 season.

Nevertheless, if the season ended today, Cano would finish second in the batting title race behind a guy the Yankees traded this off-season. Cano has been better than that though. He’s currently third in wOBA (behind Andre Ethier and Justin Morneau) and he’s been the Yankees’ best offensive player. He’s second in on-base percentage — Marcus Thames’ .552 on-base percentage looks more out of place than Johnny Gee – and first in slugging and ISO.

Cano has served as the tongue of the Yankees’ offense so far. He’s been in complete control while Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira are struggling to find the .300 wOBA mark, Alex Rodriguez is doing his best impression of a league average batter, Curtis Granderson is on the disabled list, and Randy Winn is doing everything in his power to limit Michael Kay from making the worst pun possible about his last name on a routine basis.

Whenever someone has a career high batting average, the usual culprit is an increase in batting average on balls in play. True, nearly 35% of Cano’s in play balls are turning into hits, but the real suspect here is Cano’s increased home run rate. More than a quarter of the fly balls he’s hit have turned into home runs. His previous career high is 13% set last season. It’s not unbelievable that a 27-year-old with ferocious bat speed would begin to hit more jacks as he grew, but not at a Ryan Howard rate.

All of Cano’s homers have exited via stage right field and HitTracker has the average true distance at 391 feet. That’s almost identical to the 391.3 feet from 2009 and falls well shy of the 398.4 feet from 2008. This isn’t a Joe Mauer situation where Cano is suddenly going the other way. He’s just ripping the ball down the right field line. While it’s unrealistic to continue this power surge to continue, that should not stop this from being a special season for Cano and it probably won’t stop the talks of his surely inevitable assault on the league’s batting averages.



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richiel1
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richiel1
6 years 2 months ago

He did hit .342 in 2006 as well as .320 last year, so I don’t know what’s so weird about calling him a potential batting title champ.

Yes his minor league numbers are uninspiring, but some guys don’t put up monster numbers until they get to the bigs for whatever reason (Example A: Hanley).

Since he’s been in the bigs he’s been a consistently excellent average/contact hitter, and for that matter, an excellent hitter overall. This season isn’t coming out of nowhere like the article makes it seem.

awayish
Member
awayish
6 years 2 months ago

the sentiment came from scouts. qualitative instead of quantitative analysis. you can’t dismiss it without seriously addressing it in its own right.

obviously quantitative analysis is supreme in baseball, doesn’t mean scouts are useless.

Chris
Guest
Chris
6 years 2 months ago

The thing is, I don’t think the scouts outside of the Yankees’ organization ever liked Cano all that much. Even the Yankees tried to trade him (for Randy Johnson, for example). The scouts were never all that high on him.

awayish
Member
awayish
6 years 2 months ago

the rap on him was the old free swinger, and inconsistent, lazy etc. there was no doubt to his raw ability or talent. guy hit nearly 300 in his first year.

yes, yes, pure average no walks etc. doesn’t mean the raw contact skill wasn’t impressive.

jsolid
Guest
jsolid
6 years 2 months ago

he has unbelievable bat speed. hall of fame fast.
earlier in his career, you could see him turn it on and off. this led to the inevitable wishful thinking, if he could stay focused for a whole season…
given his (physical) skills, and the (mental) obstacles to his success he began his career with, its not a surprise that it took a while for him to achieve success. not everyone overcomes that, but Cano did. and to the extent that he can stay focused, it wont surprise me at all when he wins a batting title, or finishes near the top of the MVP voting.

rwr
Guest
rwr
6 years 2 months ago

I always thought the “future batting champ” talk came from Joe Morgan. He’s a dark skinned guy who plays second base. What’s not to love for Joe?

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 2 months ago

Who was named after Jackie Robinson!

Oh, and RJ, John Sterling is far more likely to make an awful pun out of Randy Winn’s name.

Lucas A.
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

Yes; I think the call for Randy’s HR on Monday was “RANDY … HELPS THE YANKEES …. WINN!”

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

I guess it’s better than “the fans are getting randy in the Bronx!!”

Chris
Guest
Chris
6 years 2 months ago

@awayish — “One scout for a National League team who saw Cano in Double-A last year says it was hard to project this kind of success, especially this quickly, for a player who was a ‘free-swinger’ in the minors, and played with a kind of cocky nonchalance that raised questions about Cano’s makeup.” That’s from a Daily News article in 2005, a few months after Cano became a regular. There were a lot of question marks regarding his skills. The athleticism and raw talent was good, but not many thought it would translate the way it has.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

played with a kind of cocky nonchalance

I’ll translate that for you from Lazy Sportwriterish to English: “Cano is from the Dominican Republic”

White players “make errors”, Latin players have “mental lapses”…

awayish
Member
awayish
6 years 2 months ago

my point is only that the upside is there. whether he reaches it, or rather, the doubt that he would reach it, is the knock on cano.

Will
Guest
Will
6 years 2 months ago

“It seems futile to watch a national broadcast and expect to not hear the announcer talk about Cano is a future batting title winner. Where that sentiment came from is unknown, but it stuck to Cano. The oddest part of that assumption is that Cano’s minor league batting average is .278, and in Triple-A it was only .284.”

I’m not sure why the assumption that Cano would turn into a potential batting champ when he was a young player is being called odd here. It seems down right prescient. He’s hit as high as .320 and .342 in individual seasons and he has a .309 career batting average. The people who pegged him as a guy who could compete for a batting title should get credit for their prediction before it was obvious that he was capable of hitting for a high average.

“True, nearly 35% of Cano’s in play balls are turning into hits, but the real suspect here is Cano’s increased home run rate.”

Which isn’t really out of line with Cano’s career of .322. He could easily have a season where he had a .350 BABIP (it’s actually .346 now).

“All of Cano’s homers have exited via stage right field and HitTracker has the average true distance at 391 feet.”

Cano is pulling many, many more balls to start the season. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t mention this, as it would seem to explain why he’s hitting more HRs. If he can continue pulling the ball more, he should continue to hit for more power than he has in the past, even if he’s not hitting the ball further.

Ted
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Ted
6 years 2 months ago

“Cano has served as the tongue of the Yankees’ offense so far.”

I have not heard this phrase before. I get the gist, but what does it mean, exactly?

Levi
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Levi
6 years 2 months ago

He’s “licking” the competition?

(Sounds like a phrase from “Tom Sawyer”).

nick
Guest
nick
6 years 2 months ago

neither the scouts NOR David Cameron liked him!
and yet……..

RollingWave
Guest
RollingWave
6 years 2 months ago

heh, i was wondering how many post it took for someone to bring that up.

still, it really just shows that there are limits to statistical analysist especially on minor to major translations. some players that didn’t look too special in the Eastern league ended up as GREAT players, so you can make educated guess but don’t live or die by it.

as for HR rate, I like to point out that fluke HR seasons often happens, so it would be odd to dimiss it as a possibility, last year Aaron Hill hit 36 bomb after having done no more than 17 in any other years, his HR% nearly doubled from his previous high without much change in his underlying periphals. sometimes things like this (or Beltre 04, Maris’ big year, or some of the so called suspect PED seasons could be a combination of this as well) simply happens. just because it’s a 1% chance doesn’t mean you won’t roll the dice on it someone.

Chas
Guest
6 years 2 months ago

The pitching gets better in the majors and so does the hitting.

Dirty Water
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Dirty Water
6 years 2 months ago

“The oddest part of that assumption is that Cano’s minor league batting average is .278, and in Triple-A it was only .284. In fact, he never topped .300 throughout a full season until a shortened 2005 season”

and then he was introduced to Yankee Stadium’s 250′ right field corner, and took advantage of it. The end.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 2 months ago

That’s why Cano’s career batting average, BABIP and ISO are all the same or higher on the road, right?

Is it fun to just make dumb shit up, regardless of facts?

Rob
Guest
Rob
6 years 2 months ago

I don’t think an obvious Red Sox fan has any right to complain about ballpark dimensions, considering the 190 feet one has to hit a ball to reach the Green Monster.

Crystal Clear, Sparkling Spring Water
Guest
Crystal Clear, Sparkling Spring Water
6 years 2 months ago

“All of Cano’s homers have exited via stage right field and HitTracker has the average true distance at 391 feet. ”

God, I hope you don’t procreate.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

Hilarious. The Red Sox fan just made fun of the dimensions of someone else’s ballpark….

Tom B
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Tom B
6 years 2 months ago

Clearly he doesn’t watch baseball, or he wouldn’t open his mouth.

Pink Ribbon Scars
Guest
Pink Ribbon Scars
6 years 2 months ago

thanks for an unbiased opinion.

I’m sure Pedroia’s ‘MVP’ season had nothing to do with Fenway Pork, i mean, Park

Zack
Guest
Zack
6 years 2 months ago

Pedroia’s career OPS away from Fenway: .773
Or the fact that he has 1 (maybe 2) opposite field HRs in his entire career

nmh
Member
nmh
6 years 2 months ago

They should have never posted this website as a link on Dirt Dogs.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
6 years 2 months ago

The future batting champ designation came from various scouts. While Cano was always wildly undisciplined at the plate, many marveled at his hands and ability to put good contact on balls that most other hitters simply can’t hit with authority.

There is no mystery here, as if the broadcasters are pulling the information out of thin air. Many broadcasters talk to opposing teams’ scouts and their own scouts for general insight and gossip.

J
Guest
J
6 years 2 months ago

Youk Javy and Qualls for Greinke and Strassburg who wins?

Franco
Guest
Franco
6 years 2 months ago

Even as a Met fan, I’m not sure where the snarky batting title contender comment is coming from. The guy has hit 342, 320, 306 and 297 in 4 of his 5 prior seasons. He’s a putz in the field for sure, but he makes a lot of contact, hits it hard and runs fast enough to be a legit high average guy. If I was a betting man, I’d take the over/under on him hitting 300 for the next couple seasons.

Sidenote, my favorite FG articles are the ones that focus on a single player and how great/bad/flukey his stats are.

Rob
Guest
Rob
6 years 2 months ago

Funny that you call him a putz in the field, considering that so far he has been playing gold glove caliber defense at the 4 spot.

Seth
Guest
Seth
6 years 2 months ago

The 4-spot? I didn’t know Cano was a power forward.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

I think that is actually a good idea for a follow up article: why do some defensive systems love Cano (+/-, TZ) while UZR does not?

Watching Cano, he has excellent range and a shortstop’s arm. Turns the DP very well. If you come here, you’d think his defense isn’t good, but if you go to one of the other advanced metrics, it would say otherwise.

What’s the deal?

DavidCEisen
Guest
DavidCEisen
6 years 2 months ago

I wouldn’t say +/- loves Cano, seeing as it places him solidly below average. His RZR is middle of the road, at best.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

You’re right. I was going on memory. Should have said “likes better”. Still, it’s a pretty wide discrepancy, and changes the way you’d evaluate Cano.

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 2 months ago

Is “putz” the new term for “best defensive second basemen”?

Matt
Guest
Matt
6 years 2 months ago

Since when is Cano fast? He’s not exactly Ichiro busting outta the box, not enough to affect his BABIP.

Brian
Guest
Brian
6 years 2 months ago

In watching Cano is only real flaw defensively is he doesn’t go to his left all that well but he is great going to his right and has a plus arm and honestly no one turns the double play better than Cano.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
6 years 2 months ago

Cano has very limited range as a defender. He might be quick, but he is not very fast. I think people are looking at his ethnicity and assuming he is a really fast runner. Most of the time he runs as if caught in quicksand. He is excellent at turning the double play, which does count for something at 2nd base.

Mike
Guest
Mike
6 years 2 months ago

Cano is not a good fielder, in fact he’s so bad- I wouldn’t be shocked if he wound up LF at some point.

On the plus side, he’s a very gifted hitter. He’s not as good as he’s playing now, but he’s a good bet for an OPS+ around 115 most. He may blow up this season and post an OPS+ around 140 but that doesn’t really chance what his baseline should be seen as.

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 2 months ago

… what?

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 2 months ago

Aside from your main thesis being wrong, you’re right on!

Chonus
Guest
Chonus
6 years 2 months ago

Mike – what exactly makes you think he’s so terrible? Because you looked up his UZR on this site? I’m calling bullshit – have you watched the player in question or are you basing your ‘analysis’ on statistics that are free and easy to access? I think anyone who has watched Cano play even a little bit realizes he’s at least solidly average at second base, and from my own personal observations he’s even better than that. He may not be Pedroia defensively, but he’s eminently capable and as stated many, many times before, has excellent range to his right and the arm to convert those plays into outs.

Why is everyone so quick to write these ‘he’s not as good as he looks now’ articles/comments? Isn’t that fairly obvious? Does anyone think Cano’s true talent level is as a .375 hitter with the potential to reach his projected 54 HR? He’s off to a hot start. He’s hitting for increased power. He’s 27 years old. It might not make him Ted Williams or Albert Pujols, but there’s significant potential for a breakout that could last a few seasons at least. In other news, it may be hard for David Freese to hit .360 this year, and Doug Fister may not challenge Bob Gibson’s ’68 season.

nck
Guest
nck
6 years 1 month ago

I’m from Ct. I watch BOTH pedroia and cano. If you hit 1000 balls RIGHT at Pedroia he cleanly fields 999. Hit 1000 at cano he cleanly fields 990. Fine. THAT is the ONLY play pedroia makes better than cano. He doesn’t screw up the easy ones. Now, add range in, and a ball Pedroia DIVES for, cano SAUNTERS over and makes the play.

And don’t even talk about arm strength. Pedroia has none.

Errors mean squat when it comes to really trying to decribe a great fielder.

Now, I admit, I don’t know much about this uzr crap…..you can make up a statistical analysis to show ANY prejudice you want. Mark belanger had TWICE the uzr rating of ozzie smith. TWICE. Belanger. Ozzie. Can we stop with the UZR Texiera, negative numbers.

According uzr, Ellsbury (for all you red sox followers) BLOWS BIG ONES. Who really thinks he sucks with the glove?

Statistics are for people who can’t play.

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