Robinson Jose Cano Mercedes
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 210 lb.
Robinson Canó is a six-time American League All-Star long forecast to develop into the best offensive second baseman of his generation. He is a five-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner who boasts a .307 career batting average, and is effortlessly deft in the field, owning a pair of Gold Gloves.
However, that mid-career assessment has been called into question since the lifetime member of the New York Yankees left the Big Apple for a $240 million, ten-year deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2014. His first year with the Mariners was quite good in context, but he struggled badly at the start of the next season before finding his hitting stroke again, calling into question his productivity in the long run.
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. Batting .333 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 as a 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 9 seasons in 10 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 2009 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies for Cano's only championship ring. He was excellent in the 2009 ALCS, hitting .261 with 4 runs and 4 RBIs, a double and two triples, although he hit only .136 in the World Series. He was even better in 2010, losing but a single point on his average but banging 29 homers and driving in 109 run 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, Cano 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.
Cano stayed over .300 again in 2011, batting .302 with 28 home runs, 118 RBIs, and 46 doubles, more than enough for a third Silver Slugger Award. He was the Yankees' best all-around offensive force in 2012, showing his most power ever with 33 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 48 doubles. Along the way he posted career highs in slugging (.550) and OPS+ (148) to go along with a .313 BA. He hit .400 during a 23-game hitting streak in June and July, the longest for 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 making outs in his first 13 at-bats in the ALCS, with an 0 for 25 streak in the middle. Another Silver Slugger Award 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 Slugger Awards, and a pair of Gold Gloves in that stretch, it looked like he still hadn't reached his full potential. With an easy level swing, a great physique, and fielding so easy it looked like he wasn't 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 from New York 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 Cano 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."
He did manage to keep a high batting average in his first season with the Mariners in 2014, batting .314 and hitting 37 doubles. However, his 14 homers were the fewest for him since 2008, as were his 82 RBIs. Some of this was due to context, Safeco Field being a tougher home park for a hitter 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, however, he got off to a very preoccupying start, as one-third of the way through, he was hitting a mere .242 with 2 homers and 19 RBIs in 56 games. He began to heat up a bit in June, and on July 18th, he flashed some of his old self in a visit back to his old haunts, New Yankee Stadium, 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 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 RBIs. 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.
He continued to give the lie to those who thought his career was in terminal decline with 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 a Cactus League game. On April 26th, in a game that counted, he recorded in 1000th 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 RBIs 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 definitely 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 in the same season by Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins.
In 2017, he was a late addition to the American League All-Star squad, as an injury replacement for Starlin Castro. However, 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 named 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 RBIs in 150 games. He was off to another good start in 2018 as he was hitting .289 with 4 homers and 23 RBIs 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 then compounded two days later when Major League Baseball announced that he was being suspended for 80 days 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 Mark Teixeira said he was not surprised and pointed to the fact that Cano's personal trainer had been fingered in the Biogenesis scandal a few years earlier, a scandal that had engulfed two other former teammates and close friends of Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera. He returned to the fold on August 14th. By then, Dee Gordon had moved from CF to 2B 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 in any postseason games as a result of his suspension. He hist .317 in 41 games after his return, with 6 homers and 27 RBIs, but the team faded away and missed the postseason.
Following the 2018 season, the Mariners decided to shed some payroll and began making trades, with Ps James Paxton and Alex Colome and C Mike Zunino being the first to move. Rumors about Cano being traded as well were omnipresent and on December 1st, he was sent to the New York Mets along with closer Edwin Diaz in return for OF Jay Bruce, P Anthony Swarzak and three prospects: Jarred Kelenic, Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn.
Canó 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 World Baseball Classic, 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 World Baseball Classic, 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 World Baseball Classics. Canó had 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 #2 Ángel Pagán). He had 6 runs and 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, 3 hits and a homer (versus Jose de la Torre) against Puerto Rico, 3 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. 
- 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. 
- Tracy Ringolsby: "Cano ready to post Cano numbers: Mariners second baseman plans to live up to expectations", mlb.com, March 10, 2016.