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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Over/under: Robinson Cano's WAR

By David Schoenfield

Since Robinson Cano has been in the news with his contract talks as he enters his final season before free agency, let's do an over/under on him.

Now, it's a little difficult to pick the right category for him since he's been consistent. The past four years he's hit 25, 29, 28 and 33 home runs, scored 103 to 105 runs and hit between .302 and .320. His durability has been remarkable, missing just seven games in four years (and going back, just 12 games in six years). The only thing that has fluctuated has been his walk totals: 30, 57, 38, 61, leading to some variance in his on-base percentage.

So let's go with an over/under on WAR. That has also gone up and down a bit. From Baseball-Reference.com:

2009: 4.1
2010: 7.8
2011: 5.2
2012: 8.2

Since his offense and playing time has been pretty consistent, some of that variance comes from how his defense was evaluated. Baseball-Reference uses Defensive Runs Saved. Not surprisingly, he rated a little better in 2010 and 2012:

2009: 0
2010: +16
2011: +1
2012: +15

Since 10 runs is roughly equivalent to a win, he earned about an extra 1.5 WAR from his defense in 2010 and 2012. Another factor is the declining production at second base in the American League:

2009: .274/.336/.425
2010: .264/.327/.390
2011: .262/.320/.398
2012: .249/.310/.372

The gap between Cano and his peers was larger than ever in 2012, one reason he arguably had a stronger MVP case than Miguel Cabrera (he had a higher WAR). Anyway, let's put the over/under at 7.0. What do you think?