When Robinson Cano was in the minor league he wasn’t much of a prospect and the only reason he stayed in the Yankees organization is because nobody was willing to take him on in a trade. Now after seven seasons in the league he has established himself as one of the premiere players in the game.
EXPECTATIONS: Cano had a monster year in 2010 as he finished third in the MVP voting. In 2011 expectations were through the roof as he has taken over for Alex Rodriguez as the biggest force on the Yankees offense.
STALLED START: Cano picked up right where he left off last year by hitting .320 with a .970 OPS through the first 25 games of the season. Over the next 20 games though things slowed down as he hit just .213 with a .579 OPS.
THINGS STARTED CLICKING: From there things took off for Cano as he hit .313 with a .914 OPS over the final 114 games. Along with Curtis Granderson, Cano was one of the main driving forces of the Yankees.
TAKING HIS TROUBLES TO THE FIELD: When Cano struggled with consistency early in the season at the plate, he also struggled in the field. Through the first couple of months he looked lost, but as the summer got hot and his batting average soared, his defense went back to it’s typical Gold Glove caliber.
LOST SOME PLATE DISCIPLINE: Cano’s strike out rate was a career high 14.1 percent in 2011 and his BB% dropped from 8.2 percent a year ago to 5.6 this season. Cano chased more pitches outside the zone this year as well, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone 41.6 percent of the time compared to a career 33.8 percent mark.
MOVIN’ ON UP IN THE PLAYOFFS: By the time October rolled around Cano had proven himself so much with his bat that he was moved to third in the order in place of the struggling Mark Teixeira. He came through as he hit .318 with a 1.057 OPS in the ALDS.
VERDICT: Just slightly inconsistent in the beginning, but by the end he was a finished product. Not quite AL MVP caliber, but he’s definitely going to get at least a few votes. This guy is in the prime of his career and should be one of the Yankees best hitters over the next two years.
GOING FORWARD: Cano’s 2012 option worth $14 million was just picked up. There is a $15 million team option for next year that will also be picked up. After that Cano will be 31 when he hits the free agent market with new agent Scott Boras.