Robinson José Canó Mercedes
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 210 lb.
Robinson Canó is an eight-time American League All-Star and one of the top second basemen of his generation. He is a five-time AL Silver Slugger Award winner who boasts a .302 career batting average, and owns a pair of Gold Gloves for his fielding. A valuable contributor with the New York Yankees, Canó left the Big Apple for a $240 million, ten-year deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2014. While he started fairly strong, with three All-Star appearances in his first four Mariner seasons, he was handed an 80 game suspension in 2018 for testing positive for furosemide, deemed to be a masking agent of PEDs. In 2019, having been dealt to the New York Mets, his production began its fall off the cliff.
Major League career
Canó was signed by scout Carlos Rios for the New York Yankees in January 2001. He made his pro debut that summer. Hitting .333 just 24 games into the 2005 season with the Yankees' AAA farm club, the Columbus Clippers, was enough to earn a call up to the Bronx.
He responded to big league pinstripes by posting a .297 batting average and finishing runner up in the Rookie of the Year voting. His average soared to .342 in his sophomore season, 2006, earning him both an All-Star selection and Silver Slugger Award, and kicking off a run of nine seasons in ten years with a batting average of .300 or more. He repeated his 41 doubles in 2007 and rapped out a .306 batting average before dipping to .271 in 2008. The pop and then some was back in his bat in 2009, with a .320 batting average, 48 doubles, and 25 home runs. That was the year the Yankees won the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies for Canó's only championship ring. He was excellent in the 2009 ALCS, hitting .261 with 4 runs and 4 RBI, a double and two triples, although he hit only .136 in the World Series. He was better in 2010, losing a single point on his average (.319) but banging 29 homers and driving in 109 runs in the first year of a five-year run as an AL All-Star. A circuit-leading .400 batting average in April was good enough to be named the American League Player of the Month. Both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award had his name on it that fall. During those years, there was an ongoing debate between Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans over which team had the best second baseman in the majors, Canó or Dustin Pedroia; there was no clear-cut winner as both were putting up outstanding numbers year after year and getting their share of postseason honors.
Canó stayed over .300 again in 2011, batting .302 with 28 home runs, 118 RBI, and 46 doubles, more than enough for a third Silver Slugger. He was the Yankees' best all-around offensive force in 2012, belting 33 home runs and 48 doubles with 94 RBI. Along the way he posted career highs in slugging (.550) and OPS+ (148) to go along with a .313 average. He hit .400 during a 23-game hitting streak in June and July, the longest for a Yankee since double play partner Derek Jeter's 25-game streak in 2006. He ran into a deep slump in the postseason, however, going 2 for 22 in the ALDS, and then made outs in his first 13 at-bats in the ALCS, with an 0 for 25 streak in the middle. Another Silver Slugger was added to his trophy case. Canó was up a point in batting average to .314 in 2013, rapped 27 home runs, drove in 107, doubled 41 times, and set a career high in OBP with .383, good enough for a 147 OPS+. At 30, even with four straight All-Star appearances, four straight Silver Sluggers and a pair of Gold Gloves, it looked like he still had not reached his full potential. With an easy level swing, a great physique, and fielding so easy it looked like he was not even trying, it certainly appeared as though he would be durable enough to maintain or improve his performance for many years to come. Certainly millions of Yankee fans looked forward to it, and almost took it for granted.
It was not to be. Free agency beckoned, and Canó was lured away by one of the largest contracts in major league history. A ten-year deal worth a whopping $240 million showed the Seattle Mariners' determination to bring predictable offensive production and star power to the Northwest. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was widely criticized for offering such a large and long contract to a player who had already turned 30. Former pitcher turned ESPN analyst Curt Schilling warned: "This is not going to be the first 10-year contract that works. Robinson Canó is going to be a good player. I think the next four, five years, he's going to be a very good player. But this will not work. It never fails. It's impossible to stay healthy in this sport. And as you're seeing the sport cleaning up, it's going to even be harder for the players to stay healthy."
Canó kept a high batting average in his first season with the Mariners in 2014, batting .314 and hitting 37 doubles. His 14 homers were the fewest for him since 2008, as were his 82 RBI. Some of this was due to context, Safeco Field being a tougher home park than New Yankee Stadium, and offensive numbers being down around the major leagues that year. Indeed, his OPS+ of 143 fit right in with his peak seasons in New York. In 2015, he got off to a very slow start, hitting a mere .242 with 2 homers and 19 RBI through 56 games. He heated up a bit in June, and on July 18th flashed some of his old self in a visit back to his old haunts, The Bronx, as he hit a pair of two-run homers off Michael Pineda and added a single in leading the M's to a 4-3 win over the Yankees. On August 25th, when he hit his 30th double of the season, he became the first player in history to have 11 consecutive seasons of 30 or more doubles at the start of his career; only five other players, all Hall of Famers, had 11 such consecutive seasons at any point of their careers. On September 23rd, he reached 2,000 hits for his career, the 14th player in history to reach the total in 11 seasons or fewer. He finished the season with a .287 average in 156 games, with 34 doubles, 21 homers and 79 RBI. It was a nice final line given his difficult start. After the season, he underwent surgery for a double hernia, a problem that had contributed to some of his struggles.
Robbie had a great spring training in 2016. It included a fantastic game on March 27th when he hit three homers and drove in 7 runs in a 12-9 win over the Chicago Cubs in the Cactus League. On April 26th, in a game that counted, he recorded his 1,000th career RBI as part of a six-RBI night that also saw him hit a grand slam off Michael Feliz in an 11-1 win over the Houston Astros. In marked contrast to the previous season, he was off to an excellent start, leading the AL with 8 homers and 24 RBI after going deep again on April 27th. He hit .298 in 161 games, returning to the All-Star Game for the 7th time after missing out the previous year. His power was back, as he set a new career high with 39 homers, to go along with 33 doubles. He also scored 107 runs, another personal best, and drove in 103, the first time he had been in triple figures in both categories since 2011. The season put to rest any talk that he was on a premature decline, but his excellent year went somewhat under the radar given the Mariners had a poor season as a team. Canó slugged 38 home runs, all as a second baseman, falling two short of the AL record for a second baseman (40) established the same season by Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins.
In 2017, he was a late addition to the AL All-Star team, as an injury replacement for Starlin Castro. He did not waste his chance to shine on the big stage, as he hit a homer off Wade Davis to lead off the top of the 10th and give the AL a 2-1 win. He was the winner of the Ted Williams Award as the game's MVP as a result. He was hitting .275 with 17 homers at the break. For the season, he hit .280 with 23 homers and 97 RBI in 150 games. He was off to another good start in 2018 as he was hitting .289 with 4 homers and 23 RBI after 38 games when, on May 13th, he suffered a broken finger when hit by a pitch by Blaine Hardy of the Detroit Tigers in the 3rd inning. That put him out of action for an extended period for the first time since a pulled hamstring had forced him to miss over a month in 2006; since then, he had played at least 150 games every season as one of the most durable players in the major leagues. His problem was compounded two days later when Major League Baseball announced that he was being suspended for 80 games for violating its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program after testing positive for the banned product furosemide, a known masking agent. He claimed that the product was not a PED per se and that he had taking it inadvertently as it was included in some medicine he had taken for the treatment of an unspecified illness in the Dominican Republic. This was a rather flimsy excuse, given players are thoroughly warned about such a possibility and urged to be extremely prudent given the potential penalties. For one, former teammate turned ESPN talking head Mark Teixeira said he was not surprised and pointed to the fact that Canó's personal trainer had been fingered in the Biogenesis scandal a few years earlier, a scandal that engulfed two other former teammates and close friends of Canó, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera. Robbie returned to the fold on August 14th. Dee Gordon had moved from center field to second base to take his place, so he started the game at first base. By then, the M's were in a tight race for a wild card spot with the surprising Oakland Athletics and his mission was to help get the team into the postseason, even though he would not be eligible to play as a result of his suspension. He hit .317 in 41 games after his return, with 6 homers and 27 RBI, but the team faded away and missed the postseason.
Following the 2018 season, the Mariners decided to shed payroll and began making trades, with pitchers James Paxton and Alex Colome and catcher Mike Zunino being the first to move. Rumors about Cano being traded were omnipresent and, on December 1st, he was sent to the New York Mets along with closer Edwin Diaz in return for outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak and three prospects: Jarred Kelenic, Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn. He started his Mets career well, homering off Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals in his first at bat on Opening Day, March 28, 2019. But he failed to produce at his usual level, as he hit just .240 with 4 homers and 18 RBI in 65 games during the first half and was roundly criticized by the Mets faithful. Many thought that at 36, his career was basically over. He began the second half much better, as in his first 10 games, he went 13 for 38 (.342) with 5 homers. That included the first three-homer game of his career, which came on July 23rd in a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres. On August 6th, however, he was placed on the injured list with a torn hamstring, making it unlikely he would return before the end of September. He managed to beat that prognosis, being reactivated on September 3rd, but finished the season hitting an empty .256 with 13 home runs in 107 games, posting many of his lowest offensive totals.
In 2020, he played 49 games during a season that was abbreviated to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic, and he did much better than in his first season with the Mets, hitting .316 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. However, the Mets had a disappointing season, missing once again the postseason even though the number of qualifying teams had been increased. And then, disaster struck after the season when it was announced on November 18th that he had tested positive for PEDs, the substance in question being the steroid Stanozolol. And since this was a second positive test, he was now assessed a suspension lasting a full season. As he was going to be 39 when allowed to return, this was likely an ignominious end of the road for what had been an excellent career.
Canó is the son of former major league pitcher José Canó. His father pitched to him during the Home Run Derby at the 2011 All-Star Game, which Canó won by hitting a record number of long balls. Robbie reached the 30 double threshold every season in his major league career until 2017. He holds the career record for home runs by a second baseman in the American League. Jeff Kent holds the NL record at 351.
Canó was the Dominican Republic second baseman in the 2009 WBC, going 3 for 13 with a walk and 2 runs. He got only one hit in two games against the Dutch national team which the Dominicans lost. Both of his runs came against Panama on home runs by Miguel Olivo. Canó was the MVP of the 2013 event, leading the Dominican team to an undefeated record; he was the first position player to win the award as Daisuke Matsuzaka had won in the first two WBCs. Canó hit .469/.514/.781 and led the Classic in doubles (4, tied with Carlos Beltrán and Nelson Cruz), total bases (25, 6 ahead of runners up José Dariel Abreu and Andrelton Simmons) and hits (15, 3 ahead of Ángel Pagán). He scored 6 runs with 6 RBI in 8 games. He set a new Classic record for hits, breaking Nobuhiko Matsunaka's mark. Highlights included a three-RBI, three-hit effort in a win over Venezuela, three hits and a homer (versus Jose de la Torre) against Puerto Rico, three hits and a homer (off Tiago Da Silva) in a 5-4 close win over Italy. He was MVP of his pool in both rounds 1 and 2.
- 8-time AL All-Star (2006, 2010-2014, 2016 & 2017)
- 2017 All-Star Game MVP
- 2-time AL Gold Glove Winner (2010 & 2012)
- 5-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2006 & 2010-2013)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (2009-2013 & 2015-2017)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2012 & 2016)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (2010, 2011, 2013 & 2016)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 5 (2009-2012 & 2016)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (2009 & 2010)
- Won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009
- Home runs by a second baseman, career, American League: 266
- AL record - Most consecutive seasons hitting 30 or more doubles: 13 (2005-2017; entire career. The ML record is held by Stan Musial)
- Pete Caldera and Steve Gardner: "Did Brian Cashman, Yankees make right decision with Robinson Cano?", USA Today Sports, May 15, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Cano hits decisive HR, named All-Star MVP", mlb.com, July 12, 2017. 
- Anthony DiComo: "'I feel like I'm 25': Cano joins Mets at camp: Expected to lead, 36-year-old honored to have Wright's former locker", mlb.com, February 17, 2019. 
- Anthony DiComo: "Canó receives 162-game PED suspension", mlb.com, November 18, 2020. 
- Greg Johns: "Cano healthy and ready to 'start fresh'", mlb.com, February 25, 2016. 
- Greg Johns: "Cano suspended 80 games for violation of drug policy: Mariners slugger, eight-time All-Star tests positive for banned substance", mlb.com, May 15, 2018. 
- Matt Kelly: "What the Mets should expect from Cano: Historic comparables, Statcast data paint mixed picture of star moving forward", mlb.com, December 1, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Robinson Cano's PED bust ruins his rep - and leaves Mariners with soiled, $24 million star", USA Today Sports, May 15, 2018. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "MLB All-Star Game MVP Robinson Cano thanks those who paved the way", USA Today Sports, July 11, 2017. 
- Mike Oz: "Robinson Cano suspended for 2021 season after another positive PED test", Yahoo! Sports, November 18, 2020. 
- Tracy Ringolsby: "Cano ready to post Cano numbers: Mariners second baseman plans to live up to expectations", mlb.com, March 10, 2016.