It's Robbie Cano's world

We all just live in it, apparently. After two more home runs and a double, Robinson Cano’s season line is an utterly scorching .407/.444/.790, good for the highest OPS in the American League (and second-highest in baseball behind St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus), a 233 OPS+ and a Major League-leading .510(!!) wOBA. Even if Cano takes an 0-fer tonight, as Jack Curry mentioned on YES’s postgame show last night, Cano is an absolute lock for American League Player of the Month for April. Paul Konerko and his 10 home runs may get some consideration, but Konerko’s not batting over .400 on the month.

Oh yeah, and the Yankees beat Baltimore 4-0 last night, on the backs of the Robinson Cano show and eight shutout innings from A.J. Burnett. I was only able to catch the ninth inning so I can’t offer much analysis, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton to analyze other than that Cano has to be putting the fear of god into American League pitchers right now.… Click here to read the rest

Behold the Mighty Cano

Is this a new, sustainable Cano? Probably not at these levels, but rather than sweating it, how ’bout we just sit back and enjoy the ride? Oh, and pay no attention to that UZR/150 number that FanGraphs.com has out there:

Though, according to last night’s report:

One of these years, Girardi has said, Cano is going to win a Gold Glove award, and perhaps no second baseman in baseball can move as well to his right. Leading off the third, Nolan Reimold tested Cano’s range by ripping a grounder up the middle. Cano backhanded the ball near second base and, without looking, whirled and fired a perfect throw to Teixeira at first.

Whatchya believe, eyes or stats?… Click here to read the rest

The new AJ Burnett

Photo courtesy of the NY Daily News

When AJ Burnett signed with Yanks last year, he made much of the fact that he had matured. Going to ‘the School of Halladay’ he learned what it took to stay healthy and not miss so much time with ticky-tack injuries on the DL. He also said that he learned how to become more of a pitcher and less of a thrower. Brian Cashman echoed these sentiments, and it seemed the Yanks were signing a starter who was finally putting all the pieces together. Last year, part of that was true. He showed us that he did indeed learn how to stay healthy, pitching his 2nd consecutive full season without missing any time on the DL. But AJ the pitcher seemed like the same old guy. When his stuff was working, he would dominate. When it wasn’t, even if for just one inning, he would get clobbered. The School of Halladay appeared to have a pupil who quickly forgot what Roy was preaching.… Click here to read the rest

Swisher’s being more aggressive at the plate

Nick Swisher appears especially excited about his new batting stance. In fact, Swisher is so excited; he seems to be swinging a lot more this season, trying to hit balls in the zone and balls out of the zone. So far, Swisher’s O-Swing percentage is 26.1%, while his career mark is 17.6%. Relative to previous seasons, he’s swinging at quite a few pitches outside of the strike zone. Interestingly, though, he is also making more contact with those pitches, as his contact rate on such offerings is 90.3%, Meanwhile, his career mark in that regard is 84.7%.

The same is occurring for actual strikes, as well, and to a great degree. So far, Swisher has swung at 71% of the pitches he has seen inside of the strike zone. His career Z-Swing percentage, on the other hand, is 61.7% (it was 56.7% last year). Like with balls, Swisher is being very aggressive with pitches over the plate. And, like with pitches outside of the zone, Swisher’s contact rate on strikes is solid at 90.3%.… Click here to read the rest

Is Eduardo Nunez The Future At SS?

A few days ago, I noted that the Derek Jeter contract situation might get contentious, but that ultimately an agreement made too much sense for both sides. One portion of that belief was the conviction that the Yankees have no one in the system close to ready to take over for Derek, and that he would likely be the best option going forward. I continue to believe that unless the price reaches Ryan Howard levels, Jeter is the best choice, but a number of people asked me about Eduardo Nunez as a possible replacement. Luckily for me, Greg Fertel of Pending Pinstripes recently profiled Nunez:

If you were to start touting Nunez now, based on what he’s done in 2010, I couldn’t argue with you. The sample is small, but what Nunez has done is extremely impressive. On the season, he is hitting .377/.438/.507 with a .413 wOBA. That is a very impressive line, but it is not without the help of an inflated BABIP.

Click here to read the rest

Would the Yanks consider Josh Willingham?

I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but given my obsession with walks I couldn’t help but notice that Josh Willingham is tied for second in the National League in bases on balls, with 19.

RAB touched on the (unlikely) possibility of a trade for Willingham as a left field solution back over the winter, and concluded that unless the Nationals were blown away they really had no reason to trade him, given that he’s under team control at a relatively cheap price through the end of the 2011 season.

However, Willingham’s strong performance thus far in 2010 (.286/.446/.471; .423(!) wOBA, good for 9th-best in the National League) got me thinking about whether the Yankees might prefer to work out a deal of some kind with the Nationals after the season than overpay for Carl Crawford.

While Crawford’s certainly come out of the gate playing like a man in the last year of his contract (.313/.374/.500; .381 wOBA), there has already been plenty of speculation over whether Crawford is worth whatever ridiculous contract his agent is sure to ask for.… Click here to read the rest

Vazquez’s horizontal movement

Here’s some pitchFX data, via FanGraphs, on Javier Vazquez, detailing the horizontal movement on his pitches.

The peach colored rows represent league averages. Though Vazquez is largely above average (not to a great degree, but above average nonetheless) with each pitch, except for his slider, notice the degree to which Vazquez’s horizontal movement is lacking relative to previous years. His fastball (FA), slider (SL), and curveball (CU) are all moving less this season (thus far). Only Vazquez’s changeup (CH) and his two-seamer (FT) are demonstrating substantial horizontal movement when viewed alongside his career averages (they are actually well above his own averages).

Now, I’m not sure what is causing Vazquez’s horizontal movement issue. It could be mechanical, as that would be the best case scenario. It could also be brought on by an unspoken injury or even a change in velocity. Whatever the case may be, the lack of horizontal movement is likely another reason for Vazquez’s early season struggles.… Click here to read the rest

Robbie’s real test comes next month

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.… Click here to read the rest