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Robinson Cano Mariners: Fantasy Pros & Cons of Blockbuster Signing

The biggest free agent in this year’s class is off the market. According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Robinson Cano will be headed to the Pacific Northwest.

Interesting. So from the perspective of fantasy baseball, what can we take from this?

 

Pro: Cano can hit anywhere

My initial response when I heard this was to say that I didn’t like the move. Leaving Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field? How can that be a good thing? But as you have to do in fantasy baseball, I had a look at the numbers, and they told a slightly different story.

Split
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
Total Career533579920482238.309/.355/.504
Career at Yankee Stadium15242427928614.312/.368/.537
Career at Safeco Field152174202.309/.350/.487

Cano can certainly hit, and he can hit anywhere. It’s not a pro that he’s leaving a very hitter-friendly park, but it is a pro to see that at least his career batting average has been similar on the road, and in his new home park.

 

Con: HR production will likely drain

It’s a very small sample size, but look at the AB’s and HR’s above in the respective venues. At Yankee Stadium, he’d homer at a rate just above one per 19 at-bats. At Safeco Field, that mark is one per 38, or double that.

If that trend holds and Cano takes roughly half of his at-bats at home, that will work out to somewhere between 8-10 home runs at home per year. In the past, you could usually count on 16-20, depending on how many at-bats half was.

Now throw in that he’s going to be in the American League West, which means 9-10 road games a year in places like Oakland and Anaheim as opposed to Baltimore and Boston.

Since the 2009 opening of this version of Yankee Stadium, Cano has averaged 28 home runs per season. At this point, I don’t see that number doing anything but going down. Now, Cano’s a great hitter and I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll make adjustments and be best fantasy second baseman in 2014, but I’m not expecting anywhere near 30.

 

Pro: The Mariners aren’t likely done

Here’s another reason that my reaction to this trade wasn’t positive. The Seattle Mariners won’t have the kind of talent around him that the New York Yankees will, right? Well, no. But in 2013, the Yankees scored only 650 runs vs. 624 for the Mariners. Over 162 games, the difference of 26 runs is not that immense.

Now, the Yankees have made some offseason moves, notably Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, but both players have a bit of an injury history and like Cano, are left handed. Any team with a good lefty reliever could go a long way in limiting their effectiveness late in games.

If you’ve followed the hot stove season, you know that the Mariners have seemingly had interest in just about every big name free agent. This will hurt how much money they can spend, but I’d be pretty surprised if they didn’t find another bat or two to protect Cano with.

 

Con: Disruption of the status quo

I admit it, I’m a creature of habit. When things are going well, I don’t like seeing them changed. When you see Cano’s numbers over the last five years, you’ll see that things have been going very well. 

Season
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
200910325855.320
2010103291093.319
2011104281188.302
201210533943.313
201381271077.314
Average99281035.314

Even if he was going to a great power factory, how much better would anyone really expect it to be? This has been the best fantasy second baseman for a long time, and the gap between he and the second guy is greater than it is at any other position.

Maybe he’ll produce similar numbers but if he was in New York, there wouldn’t be much doubt. Here, the best case scenario is that he’ll be as good, as I don’t see much of a chance that things are going to be a lot better in Seattle.

 

Bonus Pro: Seeing the reaction he gets in New York

Not fantasy related here, but I can’t help myself.

Think back to the days of Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter, all the way through guys like Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Alex Rodriguez (who was acquired via trade). The Yankees have a history of nabbing the top players from other teams.

Now, they have to deal with the reality that someone has actually left them. Regardless of how well Cano does in Seattle, someone else took their best player. It will be interesting to see how he’s greeted back in the Bronx. The April 29 – May 1 series in New York just got a lot more interesting.

 

Overall

Again, it goes back to the disruption of the status quo, and I don’t really like that when we’re dealing with an elite player. I’m sure that Robinson Cano will again be the best fantasy second baseman in 2014, but I think the best-case scenario is that he stays the same. I don’t think he was likely to improve anywhere, but in New York or in another power-friendly park, I’d like his chances of staying the same a lot more than I do now.

Tags: New York Yankees Robinson Cano Seattle Mariners

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