Robinson Canó Will Be Just Fine

Robinson Canó
Recently, Robinson Canó has been making headlines as this week marks his first road trip to Yankee Stadium since signing a contract with the Seattle Mariners over the off-season. Canó became a home-grown superstar with the Yankees, establishing himself as baseball’s best second baseman. Although his performance has not been elite through the first month of 2014, Robinson Canó’s obscene statistics suggest that he will be just fine in the long-run.

Since the beginning of the new decade, Canó has dismissed any inclination of being overrated, which is a common affliction for Yankees’ stars. In 2010, he put up an MVP-caliber season. He earned a .319/.381/.534 line, and once again, played in all but two of the Yankees’ 162 contests. In 626 at-bats, Canó hit 29 home runs and drove in 109 runs, setting career-highs in both. He put up an 8.2 WAR season, the second-highest in the MLB behind Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. Canó was superb on defense as well, accumulating 2.2 dWAR and taking home his first Gold Glove in his career. He was also voted as the starting second baseman for the AL in the All-Star Game. Canó’s best month of the season was April, when he put up a ridiculous .400/.436/.765 slash line on his way to winning the AL Player of the Month. He also improved his pitch selection, as shown by his 8.2% walk rate, which was 2.4% higher than his career-high before 2010. In the end, Canó’s 8.2 WAR and 141 OPS+ earned him third place in the AL MVP race, behind Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. He also received his first Silver Slugger since his sophomore season of 2006. The Yankees returned to the Postseason in 2010, and Canó sought to make up for his poor play in the Playoffs in previous seasons.

In the Yankees’ ALDS sweep against the Minnesota Twins, Canó had four hits in 12 at-bats, including a triple, and drove in one run. Still, his best was yet to come, as he put up ridiculous numbers in the ALCS. In the six-game series, Canó compiled a .348/.375/.913 slash line, smashing 4 home runs while the entire rest of the Yankees only hit two home runs. Unfortunately, the Yanks only scored a total of 19 runs over the six games, and they lost in six games to the Texas Rangers, who would go on to lose the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

Canó once again put up elite season in 2011, playing another 159 games and posting a slash line of .302/.349/.533. He accounted for another 5.4 WAR, finishing sixth in the AL MVP voting. He made the All-Star Team, won another Silver Slugger, and led his Yankees to the Postseason, only to lose to the Detroit Tigers in the first round, although Robinson Canó continued to prove that he will be just fine in the future.

Canó actually improved his torrid pace the next two years, putting up 8.5 WAR in 2012 and 7.6 in 2013. His defense was solid, as he accounted for 21 runs on defense in the two-year span. He finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2012, and fifth in 2013. Nevertheless, the Yankees lost to the Tigers again in 2012 and did not even make the playoffs in 2013. Canó seemed to be the only Yankee superstar that could stay on the field, as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira all missed significant time in 2013 due to injury.

Nevertheless, he had incentive to impress in 2013, as his contract expired after the season. After months of negotiation with the Yankees, he signed a 10 year/$240MM contract with the Seattle Mariners, which was apparently too much for the Yankees. This contract was the largest given to player not named Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols.

Canó rose to greatness through his durability, as playing nearly every game for an extremely visible franchise really put him on the map. After a few years as a slightly above-average second baseman, Canó began to put up crazy numbers in 2010, averaging 7.4 WAR over the next four seasons. He brought his dominance to the bank, as he signed an enormous contract with the Mariners that rightfully classifies him as one of baseball’s best players.

Through the first month of his tenure in Seattle, Canó has been good, but not great by any means. He has a .296/.346/.376 line in 25 games and only one home run in 107 plate appearances. There was fear that Canó would lose his ability to hit home runs once he moved from the short right field porch of Yankee Stadium, and although the sample-size is small, this prediction is coming to fruition so far.

Cano’s previous success is justification to remain calm after a rough first month with the Mariners. Robinson Canó is truly a once-in-a-generation talent, and despite the fact that he is overpaid and struggling on the field thus far, his constant statistical dominance implies that he will be just fine.

Commentary by Jough Brasch

The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
Baseball Reference’s Glossary of Statistics

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