Is Robinson Cano Worth The Price?


We’re a good chunk into the season now, so I guess that’s good enough reason to take a look at how our latest rock star is faring in Seattle.

As you should know, Robinson Cano was signed by the Mariners this last off-season to a quarter-BILLION dollar contract. With a B. There was a lot of mixed feelings at the time that the M’s may have overpayed, but there was also a feeling that the Mariners may be relevant again with the acquisition of another All-Star.

So how is Robbie doing this year? Lets take a look and see if he’s earning all of his paycheque.

On the field:

Before we get to the runs, I first want to see his defensive numbers. Cano is a two time AL Gold Glover, so it’s important to remember that his value comes from more than hitting dingers.

Robbie took the AL Gold Glove in 2010 and 2012 for his play at second base. For those seasons he posted some pretty impressive fielding numbers, including a .996 fld% in 2010 (.992 in 2012). For those two seasons he committed only 9 errors and was well deserving of the Gold Glove distinction.

Here in Seattle it appears to be more of the same. Bear in mind that he’s played only 55 games this season, but Cano has already put up 95 put outs and 138 assists. We’re just over a third of the waythrough the season (there are 99 games left as of today), meaning that we should be seeing roughly the same number of assists/POs as he’s notched in the last few seasons.

Where we should see an improvement however, is in double plays. This surprised me, as I assumed losing his buddy Derek Jeter would certainly mean a drop in the number of DPs that Cano would be able to turn, but that seems to be incorrect. Cano has been in on 41 double plays already this season, putting him on pace for roughly 100+ DPs on the season. For comparison’s sake, Cano hasn’t hit 100+ double plays since 2010, though he’s been over 88 every year since 2007.

I had assumed that Brad Miller would drag him down a bit, and that’s only partly true, Miller has been in on 27 of those DPs, so it’s forgivable if he blows one or two (I guess).

In brief, Robbie is having a decent year on the field. As of now it looks like he’ll post standard numbers for the season. We’ll certainly see him top 1300 innings, which is no surprise given his ironman notoriety.

At the plate: 

These are the stats that M’s fans were really excited about. Offense brings the crowds, and Cano is bursting with offensive potential.

Cano is a 5-time AL Silver Slugger, including the reigning 2010-2013 champ. He’s on a four-year roll. So here’s a look at his other numbers this season:

[table id=21 /]

There’s obviously one major cause for concern here, and that’s the lack of home run production so far in 2014. His slugging percentage has taken a corresponding hit to reflect his lack of homers.

The positive thing to take away from this, however, is that he’s already got 33 RBIs on the season. Putting him on pace for around 95 on the season. Which is a bit on the low endof his recent numbers, but not that bad anyways. I’m sure we’d all love to see him top 100 though.

This could be because of the ballpark, Safeco is notoriously a pitchers’ park. Of note, I went back and tried to find the last time someone had a slugging pct over .500 with the Mariners, and it was back in 2009 by Russell Branyan. Admittedly, I have only a very small recollection of this guy, but he launched 31 homers that season with a .251 BA. Which is strangely painful to see.

If we set the lack of home runs aside, Cano is a run-machine. He’s tied with Dustin Ackley for the team lead in runs scored (28), and he’s second on the team behind Kyle Seager for RBIs (33).

In this sense, all is not lost for Cano. His home runs numbers have taken a dive, but everything else is right where it should be. So at least he isn’t flashing a lot of warning-track power, like we’re used to seeing here in Seattle.

Putting it all together

So what can we gather here? This quick glance seems to indicate one thing: Everything is cool in Seattle for Robinson Cano. He’s not having a career year, he’s not stinking the place out, he’s right where we expected him.

Are the nay-sayers right then? Perhaps. Over his last 2 seasons in New York (where he earned 2 Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove), Cano earned $14 and $15 Mil per season. This season, the Mariners are paying him $24 Mil. That’s right, an extra $10 million for a run-of the mill season for Robinson Cano.

It’s hard to argue that this isn’t an over-pay situation.

Sure, he’s brought a new sense of leadership to the clubhouse (whatever that means), and sure, fans are excited about him, but the guy is making mad money for a standard season.

The Mariners are winning again, so everyone’s happy. Can it be attributed to bringing Robinson Cano to Seattle? If we could definitively say yes, then it doesn’t matter what you pay him, he’s worth every penny.