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Cano Regressing? Not Quite.

By Mike Silva ~ May 23rd, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

WFAN’s Mike Francesa said earlier today he “doesn’t like what he sees at the plate or on the field with Robinson Cano.” I heard that comment from a few fans this weekend. Is this another case where a player’s “smoothness” leads people to believe he’s not 100% engaged in the game. Carlos Beltran gets accused of this often.

Last week, Gary Armida of Full Count Pitch wrote this:

But, this version of Robinson Cano seems to be regressing back to his days of being an impatient hitter who doesn’t get on base nearly enough. This season, Cano has walked just 7 times, 2 of them being intentional. By comparison, the notoriously impatient Vladimir Guerrero has 5 walks. But, it gets worse. Cano is getting on base at just a .325 clip, his lowest total since, you guessed it, 2008 when he compiled a .305 OBP. And, while the .293 BABIP is a bit low, Cano’s poor OBP has nothing to do with luck. It all has to do with a regression of his approach.

Gary goes on to cite Cano’s high percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike zone, which to date is about four percent higher than a year ago.

Cano is coming off a two year period where he’s averaged 27 homers, 97 RBI, and OPS of .893; higher than any second baseman in all of baseball; Baseball-Reference has him worth nearly 12 Wins Above Replacement, good for ninth overall. Right now, he is the best all around player in New York by a wide margin. To boot, he plays a premium defensive position.

Is there cause for concern? Or is this another talk radio meme meant to rile up callers? I am in the camp of the latter.

At the end of April, Cano was hitting .320, with 8 homers and 21 RBI. His results in May are not nearly as stellar, as he’s hit only .213 with a homer and 7 RBI. In short, Cano is slumping. Ironically, he’s walked more this month (5), than April (3). If the approach was so poor, then why wasn’t this discussed earlier?

I don’t remember anyone complaining about Cano’s approach in the field and at the plate in April. He appears to be destined to fight the “lazy label” the rest of his career. To be fair, he created this problem by not being known as the hardest worker prior to 2009. Even the advanced metrics- like O-Swing that measures pitches swung at outside the strike zone-aren’t so vastly different from last season. (40.9% vs. 36.5%).

Cano is not regressing. He is what I would call a horrific slump. This is another case where the results drive the perceptions of the process. It’s something that has become an annoying trait by fans and members of the media in the modern sports world.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Cano Regressing? Not Quite.

  1. B.E. Earl

    Keith Olbermann had an interesting theory about Cano’s struggles this year in his latest Baseball Nerd blog post. Something about how they Yanks had to get rid of Ruben Sierra and Melky Cabrera because they were bad influences on Cano. And now there is a certain spare outfielder (I’m assuming Andruw Jones) who has become a similar distraction to Robbie, taking him out to see the “bright lights of the big city”.

    I don’t know how much of that is speculation on Olbermann’s part or if it’s actual inside scoop, but it’s interesting anyway.

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