The pressure you are under to perform after signing a deal for nine figures and a double-digit number of seasons cans be a lot for a player to handle. Robinson Cano moving to the Seattle Mariners from the New York Yankees probably shocked a lot of people, but Cano got the deal he wanted and moved on from a perennial winner to a pretty much perennial loser.
In his first season in Seattle in 2014, Cano hit for a slash of .314/.382/.454 along with 82 RBIs and 14 home runs. It was a very good season for Seattle as well as they missed the playoffs by just one game, but they wanted more from Cano.
Then came the 2015 season, the worst, numbers-wise, of Cano’s 11 year career. He slashed just .287/.334/.446 and really struggled to get things going. There were injuries and off the field problems and things just weren’t adding up for him.
There was talk around baseball of Cano not being happy in Seattle and him being in a decline in his career, but he shrugged that talk off and seems poised for a bounce back season in 2016.
Not that he really needed more fuel to his fire, but former coach Andy Van Slyke had some very interesting things to say back in November about Cano, who he coached for two seasons during the Lloyd McClendon era in Seattle.
“He had probably the worst single year of an every day player that I’ve ever seen in 20 years at the big league level,” Van Slyke said on CBSSports 920am in St. Louis. “He was just the most awful player I’ve ever seen.”
You can listen to the entire thing right here, but there is no need to bore you with quotes bashing Seattle’s superstar second baseman.
Now, McClendon was probably right about Cano’s struggles in the first part of the season as he was hovering around a .250 batting average, but when you talk about his second half, you can’t touch Cano’s numbers.
In the final two months of the season, when Cano was playing through a Sports’ Hernia injury that later required surgery, he hit .328 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI.
Coming into 2016, Cano maybe has something to prove. That his huge mega-deal was worth it for the Mariners. If you have watched Cano this spring, you would see a player that is poised for a big season in Seattle.
He is in some of the best shape of his entire playing career, and it is paying off at the dish. Cano is hitting .365 with seven home runs to go along with a 1.246 OPS. You have to take Spring Training numbers with a grain of salt, but these are nothing to scoff at.
Earlier this week, Cano hit four home runs in a span of two games, and they weren’t cheap shots either.
Scouts are also raving about Cano as you can see in Joel Sherman’s piece on Cano.
“looks better physically than I have seen in years,” one scout said.
Another scout said, “he has been locked in from Day 1,”
And another scout said, “not just on offense, he is moving well to his left on defense again.”
If these observations play out in the regular season for Cano, the Mariners will reap the benefits, as this revamped team looks to end professional sports’ longest postseason drought.