by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The blockbuster trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York will obviously have a trickle down effect across the New York roster. However before we try to draw conclusions as to what the Mets’ lineup will look like on Opening Day, what’s crystal clear is that the new Mets’ front office is prepared to be unorthodox and aggressive. They see a window to compete, especially with the starting staff already in place (assuming that they are going to keep Noah Syndergaard), and they are going to try and capitalize.
Edwin Diaz is among the elite closers in the game, and his inclusion was the key to getting a deal done. However all eyes fall to Robinson Cano, the now 36-year old superstar who is coming off a season where he spent 80 games sidelined due to a PED suspension. With five years left on his contract he has the potential to be an albatross, but that’s two or three years down the road. The Mets are looking at 2019 and 2020, and it would appear that Cano is still primed to contribute.
Yes the suspension is going to bring questions, but when Cano was on the field last season he continued to produce at a high level:
310 At Bats
.303 Batting Average (94 Hits)
10 Home Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.374 On Base Percentage
.471 Slugging Percentage
.329 Batting Average on Balls in Play
All of the underlying numbers help to support the strong average:
- Hard% – 41.5%
- Oppo% – 28.3%
- SwStr% – 8.2%
So he was hitting the ball hard, using the entire field and making consistent contact. We can argue a smaller sample size, but for his career he owns a 7.1% SwStr% and 26.5% Oppo%. While his 33.6% career Hard% isn’t going to excite you, he’s been at 35.5% or better for three straight seasons (and five of the past seven). In other words there’s little reason to think that he can’t continue to hit for a strong average.
As for the power, he’s no longer a 30+ HR threat. At the same time, outside of two “aberration” type seasons he’s never been that player. Instead he’s consistently been a 25ish HR type hitter, and in recent years it’s been more of a 20-24 type option. While he may have been a little short of that pace last season, he added 22 doubles showing that the upside is still there.
Considering what he did last season would it really be a surprise to see him hit .285 with 20+ HR and 85+ RBI hitting in the middle of the Mets’ lineup? There’s value in that under any circumstance as a viable starting 2B.
In three years this may look a lot different, but the Mets are taking a short-term look in an effort to make a run while they can. We all know pitching windows can be small, and in that regard Cano will be a valuable asset for at least two years and maybe more.
Source – Fangraphs
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