It wasn’t necessary, but this morning I went to Baseball Prospectus to confirm my suspicion that Robinson Cano has been the Yankees’ best player so far this season. BP provides a list of a team’s players, highlighting their VORP contributions from best to worst. My thoughts on VORP aside, Robbie sits atop the list, right where I thought he’d be. In fact, he’s already contributed 15.3 runs above replacement to the team, nearly twice the contribution of Jorge Posada, the Yankees’ next best player thus far.
Cano’s numbers have been nothing short of superhuman. His offensive stats are .390/.430/.701 with 6 homers and 15 RBI. Those are Bonds-style numbers. If Cano were to continue his current pace for a full season he’d have 243 hits, 49 bombs, 122 RBI and a record 6,129 “he’ll win a batting title someday” comments from the mainstream media.
Beginning in 2007, Robbie earned a reputation as a slow starter. Cano put together an excellent season in 2007, but he got off to a bad start. His April OPS was .657 and his pre-All Star break line was .274/.314/.427. His .943 post-All Star OPS rocketed his season to respectability.
He reinforced his reputation as a slow starter in 2008, putting up a Mark Teixeira-esque .151/.211/.236 in April. Although his post-All Star break line was .307/.333/.482, the slow start killed his stats for the season.
In 2009, Cano vowed to get off to a quick start (Tex, take some notes). He worked with Kevin Long during the offseason and exploded out of the gate. Last April he hit .366/.400/.581, with 5 homers and 16 RBI in 22 games. He even managed six walks, which, for Robbie, is incredible.
Unfortunately, the surge didn’t last. Cano slumped in May and June, batting .272/.297/.465 and .270/.308/.410, respectively. Without his April surge his first half numbers would have been terrible. He didn’t turn it on again until the second half, when he hit .336/.365/.557 (love the isolated discipline, by the way).
While Robinson has already exceeded his April 2009 output, in many ways we’ve seen this before. His numbers are an improvement this year, to be sure (which is phenomenal), but Cano proved he can bust out of the gate last season. The real test begins on Saturday, when April is officially in the rearview mirror. The difference between Cano’s typical May/June output and his career averages this season could be that elusive batting title, particularly if he once again surges in the second half.