Our panel of experts has come together to break down the fantasy impact of Robinson Cano’s signing with the Mariners. This move could have a minor impact on many players from both the Yankees and Mariners, but today we will tackle the following question:
Is Robinson Cano still a top 5 fantasy pick following his signing with the Mariners?
My top 200 players for 2014 came out on Monday, and while Cano isn’t in my top 5 anymore he did come in 6th(and it was a tough call between him and Clayton Kershaw. I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s tough to do with the move to Seattle. The M’s spent big to get Cano, but what about the rest of the team? They have Kyle Seager and Brad Miller (who I’m high on), but what else do they have on offense to get excited about?
Last year the Yankees bats faltered and broke and Cano scored under 100 runs for the first time since 2009. 81 runs aren’t bad but it’s not first round material. The RBI will suffer the same way as the Mariners have less on offense than the Yankees did last year running on half power. Now it’s still early so I’m hoping they bring in a few more bats to help out, but then there is the next problem.
He goes from a friendlier hitting division to the AL west. Playing half his games in Safeco plus on the road in Anaheim and Oakland isn’t inspiring, but at least he gets to feast on Houston and Texas pitchers. A few days ago I viewed a scatter plot of Cano’s home runs with a Safeco overlay so there is a reason for optimism; all but one of his home runs would have cleared the wall in Seattle, but I’m going to temper my expectations.
Just based upon those few things it wouldn’t seem like Cano deserves the first round ranking, but Cano is an elite talent who deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially with what he did in NY last year with a patchwork team. Cano is a 300 hitter no matter where he plays; only time will tell what the rest of his numbers will be.
Projections .309 BA, 81 Runs, 28HR, 89 RBI, 6 SB
I’m not concerned with Cano’s value in Safeco. In fact, it might just provide a buying opportunity as the stigma associated with a) long term deals for 30 year olds and b) playing in Safeco are sure to drive his perceived value down. Safeco played pretty neutral last year. There is a difference between ballparks, but Cano averaged 400+ on his HR distance last year and should have no trouble clearing the fence in his new ballpark.
As far as lineup concerns, the Mariners scored just 26 fewer runs than the Yankees last year. With Cano slotting in to the position of greatest need for the Mariners (their 2B combined OPS was .620) the Mariners can compete as far as runs scored.
Cano will bat 3rd in Seattle. How the lineup is constructed around him will say a lot as far as how many runs scored and how many runs batted in he achieves. My assumption is that the Mariners are not done making moves. While Cano’s projection may not look exciting there’s still a huge gap between him the next 2B, enough so that he doesn’t slide down from pick #5 for me. He does entrench himself there though, without the chance of moving up to 3 or 4 which he may have had earlier. Another thing to consider is how he makes others players better around him. There will be some good times in Seattle this year, and while I don’t trust the organization to make the right moves as far as trading pieces go, I believe they’re a significantly better ball club after this signing.
2014 Projection: .309, 89 Runs, 26 HR, 98 RBI 5 SB
According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, it looks like only one of his 2013 HR would have been questionable at Safeco, so I’m not discounting his ability to hit 25+ HR. His average and batting eye won’t plummet just because he’s out of New York. His RBI total may be affected somewhat, but he’ll still be in the middle of a lineup. He may get walked more, even if Seattle finds a decent bat to put behind him, so R could remain high. I see this as a chance to buy low on him, because so many people automatically equate Seattle (and its home park) with offense killer — but hey, they moved the fences in last year.
He may not be a clear #3 behind Trout/Cabrera, but I’d still take him in the top-5 without any regrets.
2014 Projection: .310, 90 Runs, 28 HR, 95 RBI, 3 SB
Robinson Cano is an elite hitter. While he has enjoyed hitting in Yankee Stadium, his home/road splits are not really all that different over the course of the last few seasons. There will likely be a subtle decline in Cano’s HR numbers since that is the one area where he has enjoyed greater success at home than on the road. If we look at his average number of HRs away from Yankee Stadium over the past three seasons and prorate those numbers to 162 games we come up with an expected total of 26 HR.
Cano was able to produce strong run and RBI numbers in 2013 despite the Yankee offense scoring a Mariner like 650 runs. It would be unwise to expect Cano to go over the century mark in both categories since the M’s offense is not nearly as prolific as the Yankees, but Cano should still produce healthy totals. A small tax on his average production from the last five seasons leads us to the projected totals below.
Before this signing, Cano was a slam dunk top five pick and one could make a case for taking him as high as third in standard leagues. Now, he lies somewhere in the quagmire between picks five and twelve. While I think he will still go closer to five in most drafts, there is some real bust potential with this pick that did not exist before.
2014 Projection: .310, 90 Runs, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 5 SB
To me, Robinson Cano remains the clear #5 pick for 2014. The reason Cano was originally a top 5 pick was because he was the guy with the fewest question marks; not the guy with the highest upside, but the guy (after Trout and Cabrera) most likely to be a top 15 player. With his move to Seattle, it is important to look into two potential question marks: the lineup around him and Safeco. While it was exciting for a brief time to dream on Cano in a lineup with Ellsbury and McCann, when surrounded by a terrible lineup (Nix, Nunez, Wells, Ichiro, Hafner, Overbay) all of last season, Cano was able to 5×5 slash a superb .314/27/81/107/7. Only Cano’s runs suffered from the Yankees’ 2013 lineup. I would expect the average, runs, RBI, and steals to remain constant with some potential upside in runs and RBI if the Mariners improve the lineup around him (as has been rumored). Safeco is not quite the home run deterrent it used to be, but it is still not Yankees stadium. Consequently, I am dropping Cano’s HR 2014 projection from about 29 to 26. As a Yankee Cano was in discussion for the 3-5 pick in the draft, now he is clearly the #5 pick with Goldschmidt and McCutchen ahead of him. CarGo, Davis, Tulo, and others are all capable of out earning Cano, but that was always the case. Cano was the guy most likely to give you a top 15 performance and that has not changed with his move to Seattle. I am keeping Cano at 5 and would be thrilled to have him at 6-8.
I still have Cano ranked as a top 5 pick, possibly #4. A look at his home and away splits over his career show a slightly better average on the road compared to home, while there is a slight dip in power on the road. When you look at how he has fared over his career against some of the top arms in the AL West, it seems he will have no problem adjusting to facing these guys a few more times each season. Some of these splits are in small samples but Cano hits 0.333 against Yu Darvish, 0.320 against Derek Holland, 0.400 against Jered Weaver and 0.367 against CJ Wilson. He is a career 0.256 hitter against Oakland, though has only faced Brett Anderson, Jim Johnson and Scott Kazmir more than 9 times. You are selecting Cano this high due to his consistency and the fact that he plays 2B. If you do not select him in the top 5 you are most certainly not getting him. And no matter who you rank next at 2B is a downgrade and a higher risk for success. Since 2009, Cano has not batted under 0.300, hit less than 25 homers and driven in less than 85 runs (which he did in 2009 (109, 118, 94 and 107 RBI in other 4 years). Pay for consistency, there is time for taking some risks later in the draft.
The reason that everyone’s projections appear to be so close is because Cano is as consistent as anybody in the game. It seems that the general consensus of this panel is that Cano should be selected at pick five instead of between three and five. While his fantasy value takes a small hit, this is not the catastrophic event that some have made it out to be. Don’t be afraid to draft Robinson Cano in 2014.