Position scarcity or not, it is hard to argue with the ability of the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano. It’s not hard to make the claim that he is one of the best hitters in the game. Considering the supporting cast around him and the ballpark he plays in, there is no question that he is going to be given the opportunity to produce some impressive numbers once again in 2012. The question is if the upside makes him worth taking in the first round of this year’s fantasy drafts? Let’s take a look:
.302 (188-623), 28 HR, 118 RBI, 104 R, 8 SB
The Case For Him:
Obviously, doing the things he does as a second baseman gives him a significant advantage over the rest of the field. Just look at his numbers compared to other second basemen:
- Home Runs – He is one of only three second baseman with 22+ HR in ’11 (Dan Uggla hit 36 and Ian Kinsler hit 32).
- RBI – He was the only second baseman to have over 92 RBI (Dustin Pedroia & Ben Zobrist each had 91). The only other second basemen to drive in over 100 runs in a season in the past five years were Dan Uggla (105 in ’10), Aaron Hill (108 in ’09) and Chase Utley (104 in ’08 and 103 in ’07)
- Runs – He was one of three second basemen with at least 100 runs (and five with 94 or more)
- Average – Among second basemen who qualified for the batting title, only three batted at least .300 (Dustin Pedroia & Brandon Phillips were the other two).
The funny thing about Cano’s season is that there is actually room for improvement. He saw his strikeout rate rise to a career high of 14.1% (the prior three seasons he was between 9.3% and 11.1%). A reduction there, as well as an improvement in his BABIP (he was at .316 in ’11 compared to .324 and .326 the prior two seasons) will mean an improvement in his batting average. It’s not that anyone is going to complain about a .302 average, but .320 is a realistic expectation.
He also hits in one of the strongest lineups in the game and should settle into either the third, fourth or fifth spot in the order. That’s going to mean ample opportunities with runners on base (he hit .318 with RISP in ’11 and .322 in ’10), and he should also score more than enough runs once again. In other words, it’s pretty easy to pencil him in for .310/25/100/100 once again, with the potential for even more than that.
Forget about second basemen, how many players in the game can you expect that from?
The Case Against Him:
There isn’t much not to like about Cano, but if you want to point towards one thing it is his lack of speed. When you are selecting someone in the first round often times you want him to give you an advantage across the board. Unfortunately, second base is a position where you can find stolen bases from, something Cano does not offer.
There were 11 second basemen who stole at least 15 bases in 2011, so by selecting Cano you do put yourself behind the eight ball slightly. Is it enough to cause owners to avoid him, however?
Outside of the lack of speed, there is nothing not to like about Cano. You can count the hitters on one hand who bring to the table what he does. When you couple that with the lineup he hits in (which gives him plenty of opportunities) and the ballpark he calls home it really is hard to knock him. The fact is, he wouldn’t need to be a second baseman to be under consideration for the first round, but since he is he looks that much more impressive.
He’s not going to go in the first few picks, but mid-to-late in the first round he is way too good of a selection to pass up. Consider him a good pick at the tail end of the first round in all formats.
What are your thoughts of Cano? Do you think he belongs in the first round? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out our other 2012 projections: