Question 1: Where is Cano's power?

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
11:30
AM ET
Let's try something different today. Throughout the day, I'll look at 10 random questions that pop into my head.

Question No. 1: What's up with Robinson Cano's power?
What, you mean like the fact that Billy Hamilton has more home runs? Cano is hitting .327 but has just three home runs and I suppose the knee-jerk reaction is simply that he moved from the short porch at Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field.

It's not that simple, of course. From 2011 to 2013, Cano did hit more home runs at Yankee Stadium than on the road: 49 to 39. He compensated by hitting more doubles on the road -- 77 to 58 -- so his wOBA was nearly identical, .384 at home and .378 on the road.

Still, while we would have expected his power to drop some -- he was also moving from some homer-friendly road parks like Baltimore and Toronto to less-friendly road parks like Oakland and Anaheim -- it shouldn't have collapsed like this, and we've gone past the point where it's just an extended slump.

SportsNation

How many home runs will Robinson Cano end up with?

  •  
    17%
  •  
    42%
  •  
    33%
  •  
    8%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,255)

To make matters worse, his three home runs have all been classified by the ESPN Home Run Tracker as "Just Enoughs." Two of those came in the right-field jet stream in Texas (off Tanner Scheppers and Nick Tepesch) and the third came at Safeco off Masahiro Tanaka (ruining Tanaka's shutout bid in the ninth inning).

From 2011 to 2013, Cano hit a home run on 18 percent of the fly balls he hit, peaking at 21 percent in 2012. This year, he's homered on just 7 percent of his fly balls. He's also hitting a lot fewer fly balls:

2013: 31.6 percent fly ball rate, 282 feet average fly ball distance
2014: 17.7 percent fly ball rate, 278 feet average fly ball distance

So when he hits a fly ball, the ball is roughly traveling the same distance, although a few feet here and there can be big difference. Cano may be making a conscious effort to go for more line drives -- his line drive rate is up a few percent -- but he's been unable to turn on pitches with authority like in the past. He's always been a good opposite-field hitter, but would still yank some pitches to right field. Compare his fly ball charts the past two seasons:

Robinson CanoESPN Stats & Information


Note that all three of his home run were classified as line drives, not fly balls. Keep in mind that Safeco doesn't punish power to right field like it does to left field. Collectively, Mariners' left-handed hitters have a slightly higher isolated power at home than on the road (it was higher on the road last year, however).

Overall, I'd say Safeco has played a small factor in his power struggles. Some of it has been bad luck. Oh ... and Cano is seeing the same percentage of pitches over the vertical middle and the inside part of the plate as last season, so the idea that he's seeing a lot of junk on the outside part of the plate doesn't hold true.

Actually, this number may be the scariest number for Mariners fans: According to ESPN Stats & Info date, he's actually seen nearly 10 percent more fastballs this year than last year (65.6 percent to 56.1 percent. Is word getting around the league that maybe his bat has slowed up a bit?

Look, Cano is still have a good year at the plate and he's hardly the problem in Seattle's lineup. But the Mariners surely expected more power from their $240 million second baseman.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.