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Archive for April 25th, 2011

At first glance, Robinson Cano seems as if he has picked up exactly where he left off in 2010. His batting average, slugging percentage, wOBA, OPS+, and runs created per plate appearance are all in line with or even better than his near MVP season. However, there is one glaring indicator that has failed to keep pace: on base percentage.

When Cano first entered the league, he was a notorious free swinger, but the second baseman gradually increased his walk rate to a respectable 8.2% in 2010. In an admittedly small sample of only 18 games, however, Cano has only walked one time in 78 plate appearances this season. Is this the reversal of a trend, or a momentary set back?

Robinson Cano: 2010 vs. 2011

  BA OBP SLG OPS+ wOBA wRC+ BB% K%
2010 0.319 0.381 0.534 142 0.389 142 8% 12%
2011 0.316 0.321 0.566 141 0.384 146 1% 17%

Source: fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com

A look inside Cano’s plate discipline percentages doesn’t really reveal anything amiss. Although he has been swinging at more pitches, most of those cuts have come at balls thrown in the zone. There have been a few extra swings at pitches out of the zone, but for the most part, Cano has continued a trend that has seen him eschew taking strikes in favor of swinging at them. This finding contradicts the conventional wisdom that Cano has evolved from a free swinger into a more patient hitter. Instead, it seems as if he has just become better at picking out a good pitch to hit…and doing more damage when he does. In other words, Cano’s increasing walk rate is more about respect than discipline (in fact, 14 of his 57 walks in 2010 were intentional).

Cano’s Strike Breakdown

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Derek Jeter is a human being. That seems to be the lesson derived from the New York Post’s preview of Ian O’Connor’s forthcoming book about Jeter, which will focus on the Captain’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez.

Arod’s unflattering comments about Jeter in the March 2001 issue of Esquire led to a cooling off period in their friendship.

Weaving Arod into the narrative has almost become a prerequisite for publishing a baseball book, so it’s not surprising that O’Connor would go that route. What is difficult to understand, however, is why so many people seem to be regarding the excerpts as groundbreaking news.

Just about anyone who has followed the Yankees over the past 10 years is well aware of the icy relationship that existed between the two superstars for most of the past decade, so O’Connor’s initial revelations hardly qualify as news. Although the quotes attributed to Brian Cashman aren’t part of the record, most of the other details have been widely reported and discussed.

A common reaction to the New York Post’s predictably sensational presentation of the excerpts has gone something like this: “You see…Jeter isn’t perfect. What’s more, he has been a bad leader all along.” Considering the piling on that the Captain has endured since showing the first signs of succumbing to age, that reaction has pretty much been par for the course. However, that doesn’t give the book’s author, or its readers, a license for hypocrisy.

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