Key Stats: The best average among all second basemen belonged to Robinson Cano last year at .320. His .326 BABIP was right around his career level of .321 one year after he didn’t have much luck in the BABIP category. Luck really is the word here because there wasn’t really any large difference in his line drive rate, strikeout rate, etc.
Skeptics Say: Cano did have the best HR:FB rate of his career last season at 13%. That goes a long way in explaining why he had a career best 25 home runs. Then again maybe this stat was a legitimate representation of Cano’s power. Of the 25 home runs 14 were hit at home which would seem to go well with the general pattern of lefties at Yankee Stadium and Cano also hit a career best 48 doubles.
Peer Comparison: Derek Jeter goes ahead of Cano. Not just because he was recently crowned the “cover boy” of FBHS, but also due to position scarcity factors. There are eight second basemen who could be taken in the top 50 picks this year and only six shortstops (or five depending on Ben Zobrist’s eligibility) who could go in the top 50. Thus if my team is picking in this spot with Cano and Jeter still on the board, Jeter should be taken ahead of Cano in the hopes of getting either Cano or a player like Aaron Hill with the next pick.
Given Jeter’s success as a contact hitter, I’m not worried about the fact that he’s giving up 8 years to his double play partner. The age and contract motivation should be enough to keep his numbers close to what made him the 16th best player in the Yahoo game last season.
Team Outlook: Joe Girardi has already declared that ironing out the lineup is his number one concern coming out of spring training. Cano had 85 RBI last season while hitting either fifth, sixth or seventh. Here’s the breakdown of RBI per at-bat in each part of the order:
Batting 5th: One RBI every 7.4 at-bats out of 214 at-bats
Batting 6th: One RBI every 9.8 at-bats out of 177 at-bats
Batting 7th: One RBI every 7.8 at-bats out of 235 at-bats
Hideki Matsui was the Yankees number 5 hitter the majority of the time last season, so that spot in the order should be Cano’s. He projects as a better option statistically there than Jorge Posada or Nick Swisher. Curtis Granderson should slide into Johnny Damon’s number two spot in the order. If Cano is consistently protecting Alex Rodriguez and benefitting from getting an extra at-bat every every once in a while from hitting higher up, there’s good reason to believe he could get 100 RBI or better. For some reason he really struggled with runners in scoring position last year only batting .207, so if that number comes into normal territory Cano figures to be one of the better two-baggers in average and RBI.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #5 Second Baseman; ESPN.com: #30 Overall; Yahoo: #7 Second Baseman and #42 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #48 Overall; Couch Managers: #31 Overall; FB 365: #4 Second Baseman
Projection: Cano’s RBI will come up, but his run scoring should actually decrease. Scoring 103 times even in this lineup is hard to do when hitting so far back in the order.
94 R 22 HR 105 RBI 6 SB .315 AVG .865 OPS
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