• How Did Robbie Cano Become A Star?

    Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 · Comments (10)

    To date, through yesterday’s game, Robinson Cano’s career BA/OBP/SLG line with the Yankees is .309/.342/.488 (in 3,140 PA). When I look at that line, the first thing I think about is Cano’s minor league production prior to becoming a big leaguer – and how few thought (before 2005) Robbie would hit, like he has, at the Major League level.

    Related, here are his minor league numbers:

    Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
    2001 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A- 59 241 37 14 2 3 36 28 29 .231 .328 .361
    2002 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A- 135 599 78 25 10 15 81 33 86 .276 .319 .437
    2003 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-AA 136 571 71 25 4 6 63 26 65 .277 .322 .374
    2004 21 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-AAA 135 563 65 29 10 13 74 42 67 .283 .339 .457
    2005 22 Columbus IL AAA 24 114 19 8 3 4 24 6 13 .333 .368 .574
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 5/3/2010.

    .

    Interesting, huh?

    How does a guy fashion a career BA/OBP/SLG line of .278/.331/.425 (in 2,106 PA) in the minors go on to post a line of .309/.342/.488 in the majors?

    Typically, players do better in the minors than in the majors because the level of pitching is more advanced in the big leagues.  You just don’t see guys who hit .280 in the minors become .300 hitters in the majors – at least not everyday.

    I know that many like to cite Don Mattingly in a situation like this – saying that he was a better hitter in the majors than the minors. But, in truth, Donnie Baseball had a “slash” line of .307/.358/.471 in the majors compared to a .332/.378/.471 one in the minor leagues.

    So, just how did Robinson Cano become the player that he is today? Is it just a matter of better food, playing surfaces, lighting in the majors along with pitchers who throw more strikes? That would be the conventional wisdom. Maybe that’s it? Then again, maybe it’s something else? To be candid, I have no clue on this one.  And, if I did, it would be more of a suspicion than a clue.

    Granted, this matter is not one of the world’s greatest and most enduring unsolved mysteries. And, it’s not a natural or supernatural phenomena. But, to me, it’s still an interesting question.  How about to you?

    Comments on How Did Robbie Cano Become A Star?

    1. May 3rd, 2010 | 6:07 pm

      From those numbers, it seems that Robbie got better as the competition got better. He’s improved considerably as he’s gone higher up in the farm system.

      It’s only a matter of time before Robbie hits .400 =)

    2. Corey Italiano
      May 3rd, 2010 | 6:18 pm

      I’m surprised nobody is yet to pronounce Cano’s stellar start a direct result of Melky’s departure.

    3. jrk
      May 3rd, 2010 | 6:39 pm

      @ Corey Italiano:
      I was wondering the same thing, but to be honest, I wouldn’t buy that. Cano has steadily improved every year, and he’s simply coming into his own now, power and all. If someone were to make the “less distractions, less beers, without Melky” argument, I’d be tempted to label it more as correlation than causation.

    4. Corey Italiano
      May 3rd, 2010 | 6:43 pm

      jrk wrote:

      I was wondering the same thing, but to be honest, I wouldn’t buy that.

      Oh of course not, I’m just sayin’ I’m surprised it hasn’t happened.

    5. jrk
      May 3rd, 2010 | 6:48 pm

      @ Corey Italiano:
      Yup, I totally agree. I even expected Steve by now to put up a post about Robbie being better off without his “primo”.

    6. 77yankees
      May 3rd, 2010 | 8:54 pm

      jrk wrote:

      I was wondering the same thing, but to be honest, I wouldn’t buy that. Cano has steadily improved every year, and he’s simply coming into his own now, power and all.

      Cano he hit .320 w/ 25 HR last year, and hit .340 one year with Melky on the team, so that’s not an issue.

      If you play fantasy baseball, one of the theories that’s been proven to some extent is hitters reaching their apex when they’re 27 years old, and that’s how old Cano happens to be.

    7. Tresh Fan
      May 3rd, 2010 | 10:45 pm

      Interesting question for today, the 5th Anniversary of Cano’s MLB debut. For me it’s even more intriguing how Cano became the Yankee’s 2B to begin with, considering that after the 2003 WS that position was being filled by one Alfonso Soriano, who
      (a) was not yet 27, and
      (b) was coming off back-to-back seasons of 350+ TBs and 35 or more SBs. But even when Soriano departed before the ’04 season the Yanks were more inclined to trust the vacated position to the likes of veteran utility players like Miguel Cairo or Enrique Wilson than to any minor league prospect. And even when the ’05 season began the Yanks handed 35 year old free agent Tony Womack the keystone without giving Cano much of a look (IMHO). It was only after Cano began tearing up the IL that April just as Womack was “underwhelming” us that the call came. And to what immediate effect? Cano went 2 for 23 (.087) to start his MLB career amid cries of “who IS this stiff?” So it’s been a journey actually for Cano becoming a star.
      But aren’t we lucky that we’re along for the ride? :)

    8. 77yankees
      May 3rd, 2010 | 10:59 pm

      @ Tresh Fan:

      Interesting to note also that the Yanks offered Cano to Arizona as part of the Randy Johnson trade before 2005, and the Diamondbacks didn’t want him.

    9. May 4th, 2010 | 9:01 am

      Interesting to note also that the Yanks offered Cano to Arizona as part of the Randy Johnson trade before 2005, and the Diamondbacks didn’t want him.

      Whew.

    10. May 4th, 2010 | 11:02 am

      [...] Lombardi of Was Watching recently posed an interesting question with regards to the red hot, Robinson Cano. How, exactly, has Cano become [...]

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