==Yes, He Is That Good==
Stat highlight reel:
— Robinson Cano has been one of the very best hitters in baseball for four years running.
— During that stretch
==== his low OPS is .882
==== his low SLG is .516
==== his low ISO is .202
==== his low RC/27 is 6.5
==== his low wOBA is .374
That, my friends, is sustained excellence.
Here’s the whole thing:
|162 Game Avg.||162||683||629||94||194||44||3||24||97||4||3||41||81||.309||.355||.504||.860||125|
He’s been getting better, which I find very interesting and actually pretty unusual.
— Cano started out as a low-strikeout specialist. His first five seasons, his K% never went above 12.7%. That is very low. MLB average these days is more like 20%.
— But in those early days, he didn’t walk a ton (BB% in the 3-5% range; MLB average is around 8%), and, while he hit the ball hard, he wasn’t an elite slugger (ISO in the .160-.180 range in the beginning).
— Key for Cano: he kept the low K% while adding power. That’s huge, and not a trick that you see from “ordinary” hitters. His ISO, HR% and XBH% all climbed, but his whiff rate stayed rock-bottom.
— His “plate discipline” numbers at fangraphs have stayed right around his career averages (72.5% “zone swing” percentage; 94.2% “zone contact” percentage) even as his ISO has climbed well over .200. Trust me, that’s not something you usually see.
— And, then, the coup-de-grace, he went from a below-average walk rate to an above-average walk rate. In 2013, it was a career-high 9.5%.
— At the end of his evolution, Cano now checks off every box you want to see in an elite hitter. And that’s how he got those results that I ticked off above, and how he was no lower than 6th in the MVP voting each of those four seasons.
So, from 2010 to 2013 he’s pretty much David Ortiz except with athleticism and playing second base.
Is he a product of Yankee Stadium? No. His career OPS is actually slightly higher on the road.
How about Safeco? 163 PAs: .309/.350/.487. Almost identical to his career totals, except in the SLG department (.309/.355/.504). Not really enough of a difference to draw any real conclusions.
So do you go 8/$200+ to get him?
Well, if you’d signed Ortiz to an eight-year deal at age 31 you’d be a happy camper. If you’d signed Albert Pujols to an eight-year deal at age 31 you’d be … oh wait.
Past performance not necessarily indicative of future results. As I said in a shout, Pujols had an 11-year track record of sustained excellence. Cano has four.
But if you’re going to break the bank, I don’t see any obvious “for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-don’t-sign-this-guy” red flags.