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Updated: June 15, 2010, 1:18 AM ET

Evolving Cano elevating to Yanks' best hitter

Kruk By John Kruk
ESPN
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It's not an aberration; the Yankees' Robinson Cano is for real. This season, the second baseman is already leaving last season's stats in the dust. He's gone from batting .320 with a .357 on-base percentage to batting .371 with a .418 on-base percentage.

The fact that Cano is already batting above .370 for the year is just one indication of his potential to rack up three or four batting titles. It took awhile for him to figure out that once you have your fourth and fifth at-bat in a blowout game, you can't give up at-bats. Sometimes Cano had games where after the third or fourth at-bat, if the game was out of hand, he would have a throwaway at-bat where he would swing at a bad pitch and ground out or pop up.

I talked to Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa, and we all agree that Robinson Cano can win multiple batting titles. Cano's swing is very dynamic and he has the ability to hit an inside pitch and crank it the opposite way. Not a lot of guys can do that. There are so many guys with robotic swings, but Cano has the ability to make adjustments in the middle of his swing, much like Derek Jeter.

Batting fifth in the Yankees' lineup has certainly helped Cano improve, but I think eventually he will move up to hit third. The third spot is usually where your best hitter hits, and he is their best hitter. With Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez there it's a tough sell, but I'm confident Cano will move up. There aren't too many guys who can hit anywhere in the lineup, but he's one of them.

There were several times last year when Cano was overaggressive; he didn't let the game come to him, he went to the game. Ultimately, it made it easier for pitchers to figure him out. This year he's not making it easy.

Cano is a student of the game and is finally starting to understand what pitchers are trying to do to him at the plate. The hardest thing for a young hitter to realize is when you're being pitched around and when you're being pitched to. Cano knows what he can handle. When it's not in the zone he's looking for, he'll just wait. He doesn't give up the easy outs anymore.

The best is yet to come for Cano. One would think we should marvel at what Cano is doing as he is building an MVP-caliber season, but I believe it will become status quo for him. Much like you can pencil in Derek Jeter for 200 hits and a .300 batting average, I think you can pencil Cano in for .340 average, 20-30 homers and 100 RBIs from here until the end of his career.

John Kruk is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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Tuesday's Best Matchups

Phillies at Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET

A rematch of the last year's World Series but with a new name attached to the marquee. Roy Halladay wasn't around when these two teams met this past October, but he will be for this series opener when he faces Yankees headliner CC Sabathia. The Phils have scored one or fewer runs in three of Halladay's past five starts. After losing consecutive decisions, Sabathia has won two in a row.


Rays at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

This doesn't set up well for the Braves. Atlanta starter Kenshin Kawakami is 0-8 in 12 starts this season. The Rays' David Price, meanwhile, is 9-2. Those nine wins are the most in the American League; also tops is his 2.23 ERA. Want more? Price's numbers in June have been outstanding; he is 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA this month.


Rockies at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

Rockies games just don't seem to get decided with Aaron Cook on the mound. The righty has walked away with six no-decisions over his past seven starts; the sole exception was a win May 29 against the Dodgers. Since starting the season with consecutive wins, Carl Pavano has been unable to follow a victory with another winning decision.

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