Robinson Cano: Home Runs are Overrated


Robinson Cano is not hitting home runs, and apparently that is a problem. Except that it isn’t.

Home runs are fun, and they can be a compelling part of the game. However, they can also be an overrated offensive stat in the grand scheme of player productivity.

In true media fashion, there are plenty of folks who are looking for Cano to fail after he (gasp) left the New York Yankees and signed for a whole lot of money with the Seattle Mariners.

ESPN New York pointed out that Cano “took advantage” of the short porch in New York. What are you saying, ESPN? Are you saying that players hit more home runs when the fences are closer to home plate?

Wow. That is some insightful analysis.

Here’s the thing…Cano is actually having a pretty solid season even without the home runs. The following stats are through 61 games. In this case, the numbers are actual/projected through 162/ranking in Cano’s 10-year career:

Hits: 80/212/1st

Runs: 40/106/1st

Doubles: 14/37/8th

HR: 3/8/10th

RBI: 35/93/6th

BB: 20/53/4th

By the way, Cano’s current average (.332) is his best since 2006. When you look at these rankings, is Cano having a bad year because he isn’t putting the ball over the fence? Hardly.

Now I’m sure the Sabermetics guys are going to tell me that I need to drill down deeper into more telling stats. Fine. Cano’s ISO is .104, which FanGraphs would put in the “Poor” category.

The question is, should the Mariners expect Cano to be a “power” hitter? Sure, he has hit more home runs in the past, but does an expensive player really have to put balls in the seats to be a consistent threat at the plate? I think not.

Justin Smoak has seven home runs, but he is also hitting .208 for the season. Would you rather have that?

At some point, Cano may start hitting more home runs. If he does that will be just fine, but hopefully it won’t be at the expense of more important statistics.

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