Player Spotlight: Robinson Cano
I’m going to be spotlighting a couple players per position that I find especially interesting each week. These are going to be more of a stat based, analytical deep dive on a specific player. The projections next to the player names are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projection systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 1/01/2019-02/19/2019. Is Robbie Cano still Robbie Cano?
Robinson Cano, NYM (ADP 126): 593 AB, 72 R, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 1 SB, .279/.340/.456/.796
Prior to the 2018 season Cano was the best bet for 150+ games in the MLB for 11 straight seasons. He’s always had one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league to go along with solid power and high batting averages. Simply put, Cano was a sure bet to be a top 50 overall player year in and year out. He signed a monster 10 year, $240 million contact with Seattle after the 2013 season. Many were worried leaving the short porch at Yankee Stadium would sap his power and while he hit just 14 HR in his first season in Seattle, he set a career high with 39 in 2016. Everything was going great for Cano owners in 2018 until…
He was hit by a pitch that broke his pinky and suspended 80 games for PEDs, causing him to play in a career-low 80 games. The good news is that when he returned, he was the same player he’s always been. He slashed .303/.374/.471/.845 with 10 HR and 9.2%/13.5% BB/K rates respectively. Those are actually slightly better than his career numbers. He also had the highest hard hit rate of his entire career. Things were shaping up for Cano to enter the season with little to no change to his outlook until…
He was traded along with Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets in December. There are a couple of factors that need to be considered when evaluating a player’s outlook following a trade. The immediate concern for me is the ballpark change. Home parks are a big deal for a player’s statistics. In Cano’s case, he’s going from the 17th best ballpark for left handed power to the 27th. That’s a fairly considerable drop off that will factor into his HR total in 2019. The second factor is team context. The Mets have a far better lineup than the Mariners are projected to have in 2019 and the team should be much better, which leads me to believe the move from Seattle to New York is a wash.
Now, for what I’m expecting from the 36 year old in 2019. That’s right, he’s 36 now, which means most owners don’t want to be the ones holding the bag when he’s got nothing left. His current NFBC ADP (126) is comically low for a player this consistent. He showed after returning from the injury and suspension that nothing has changed. He was better than ever! I’m buying Cano in every spot that I can, because he is, in fact, still Robbie Cano.