I'm gonna do it again. I'm gonna devote a second straight blog entry to the discussion of one particular New York Yankee.
So call me a Yankee sympathizer or susceptible to East Coast bias or assign me any of long list of labels that don't at all consider where my loyalties lie. I got an e-mail that got me thinking, and when I start thinking, I generally write better. Go figure.
This one comes from someone named TBD Taylor, his parents obviously taking procrastination to a whole new level:
What is the deal with Robinson Cano? He is having a HORRIBLE start to the season. All I kept hearing was how this guy will win a batting title one day. Do players that contend for batting titles go into slumps like this? Players like Derek Jeter very rarely have back-to-back games without a hit. I think Cano is too undisciplined at the plate not to go into slumps often. His splits are all over the place. I know he will snap out of it, but he is killing my team. He doesn't produce when he is in, and I already have two other players on my team that can play second base. I am trying to trade him but getting no offers. Did somebody kill his dog or something? Should I not sell him now? Should I drop him? I know I should wait this out, but how can he suck for this long?
I actually included Cano in my Overvalued and Overrated column this spring, so to say every writer got together before the season, joining hands and singing Cano's praises in unison probably overstates it a bit. Of course, I didn't expect him to have a batting average of .222 this late in the season. I still won't predict him to have one lower than .300 by season's end, so to give you a short answer, TBD, I think you need to hang on to him.
Before I address any other parts of your question, I first need to remind you of Cano's splits last season. He hit .274 in the first half and .343 in the second half. So basically, you hit the nail on the head by calling him "too undisciplined at the plate not to go into slumps often." He does go into slumps -- long slumps -- and mostly due to his lack of selectivity at the plate, as evidenced by his 85 walks in 1,838 career at-bats.
But when he gets hot, he gets so hot that, despite his prolonged cold streaks, he manages to finish with a batting average on the right side of .300. In his first three full seasons, only once has he finished below .300, and even then he hit .297.
So before you panic, threatening to cut your early-round pick if you can't give him away in a trade over the next day or two, remember your own assessment of him. He is a streaky hitter, so you have to consider his start of the season nothing more than one of his incredibly long cold streaks. The good news is he's partially broken out. He hit .295 in May, after all, and last season, he didn't have a month during the first three where he hit higher than .279.
And considering his splits last season in conjunction with his start this season, we should probably start thinking of him as a second-half player, kind of like we do Nick Markakis and Mark Teixeira. Even in 2006, when Cano hit .342 overall, he had a 40-point discrepancy between his batting average in the first half and the second half (.325 to .365), making him streaky in a predictable way.
And predictable streakiness has its advantages over wall-to-wall consistency.
That's all for now.