Zoning in on Robinson Canó

ZoningIn29_Cano

Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Felix Hernandez.

Robinson Canó is feeling good. You can tell by the way he’s swinging the bat. You can tell by the way he’s moving around on defense. Or, you can just ask him.

“It feels different now,” Canó said of his swing in speaking with Greg Johns of Mariners.com. “I’m able to use my hips, and when I’m able to do that, it’s easier for me to stay back and be able to swing at the pitches I’m looking for without having to cheat. That pitch inside, last year, I remember I couldn’t hit that ball.”

“It’s important because I’m a guy that to be able to go the other way, I need to not be jumpy at the plate and be able to hit the ball wherever it comes,” he said. “If it’s inside, hit to right field. If it’s away, hit to left field. That tells me that I feel good and I’m healthy.”

That all-field ability was on display as much as it possibly could be in his three-homer game against the Cubs, as he hit long balls to right, left and then center. He now has seven Spring Training home runs, leading the Cactus League—and a 1.246 OPS to go with those.

While everyone talks about 2015 being a down year for Canó, and he’d acknowledge it wasn’t up to his standards, his second-half numbers were almost as impressive as his spring stats.

In his final 305 plate appearances, Canó batted .331/.387/.540 for a .926 OPS. For comparison, had that been over a full year, it would’ve been the second-highest mark of his career—as the .929 he put up in 2012 is his current high. By Baseball Reference’s OPS+, which adjusts for the ballpark players play in, Canó was the 11th-best hitter in the American League in the second half.

Of course, this was as he battled a double sports hernia, with him having surgery shortly following the season.

But even as he battled that injury—and a first-half illness—for the better-part of the season, his ability to put the barrel of bat on the ball was still very much there.

Taking a look at the Statcast data from 2015, pulled together by Baseball Savant, Canó had the eighth-highest percentage of the balls he put in play leave the bat at higher than 100mph, among the 198 players who put the ball in play at least 300 times. At the same time, his batting average on those 100+mph balls in play was 167th.

Whether it was bad luck or the angle they were leaving the bat, it’ll be something to watch as a healthier Robinson Canó steps to the plate in 2016.

Off the Field

Canó, like his teammate Nelson Cruz, does what he can to make a big impact off the field in his hometown and native country—in Canó’s case, it’s San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.

Over the offseason, Canó’s RC22 Foundation officially opened the RC22 Dream School. The Montessori school serves 100 children ages 3-8.

Here’s the story behind it:

And here’s how it all looks now:

In Seattle, Canó works with the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club of King County and City Year Seattle/King County.

Highlights

 

 

 

Photos

More in the Zoning In on the 2016 Mariners Series:

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