Robbie Cano, what the heck happened?
2005: .297 .320 .458 106
2006: .342 .365 .525 126
2007: .306 .353 .488 120
2008 : .271 .305 .410 88
Cano obviously had a down season–a very, very down season in comparison with his career numbers. So what happened? I believe it was a mixture of a few different components: Lack of self-discipline, lack of concentration, lack of Managerial/Coaching discipline, and pitchers figuring him out.
Lack of self-discipline, lack of managerial intervention and lack of concentration go hand-in-hand. Had Girardi intervened earlier in the season and benched him, perhaps he would have put more effort into his game and would have elevated his concentrationr. After his mid-September benching, Cano had a fire lit under his rear end which didn’t go out until the season ended.
As far as pitchers figuring him out, I’m surprised it took this long. Robinson had always started with his stance wide open, shoulders facing towards the pitcher. As the pitcher would deliver the ball, Cano would then shift his hands and shoulders back into a closed stance, before swinging. There were simply too many moving parts. Robbie did not have enough time to react to fastballs on the inside portion of the plate. His approach was to either hit outside fastballs into the opposite field, or to pull junk breaking balls on the inside part of the plate. Breaking balls on the outside part of the plate, he was lost. Fastballs on the inside part of the plate, he also had no chance. Why it took the league so long to figure this out, I have no idea.
After a little tinkering from Kevin Long(Yankee hitting coach), Cano had refined his stance. The change was to keep his stance closed, instead of closing it while the pitch was being delivered. Less moving parts, more time to react, same sweet swing. Simple, yet very effective.
Intervention from Kevin Long and the benching given to Cano by Joe Girardi were relative. I believe both were responsible for Robbie’s scorching finish to the 2008 season. When this kid is focused and on top of his game, he’s just as good a hitter as almost anyone in baseball, besides the super-humans like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez. I hope Girardi and Long stay on him from here on out, which I think may be the case, considering Kevin Long is currently working with Robinson in the Dominican Republic.
What can we expect from him? In my opinion, a bounce back season, and perhaps the finest of his young career. Those are all very impressive numbers Cano has posted, except for the 2008 season. But even during his “down” season, he slugged over .400, slammed 53 extra base hits and drove in 70. Torii Hunter drove in only 8 more runs than Robinson.
The last thing the Yankees want to do, is trade him.