Who'd have thought Robinson Cano's career high in home runs would come when he was playing his home games at Safeco Field? Well, in 2016, he did just that, while also reaching his best runs total in a much-improved Mariners offense. The long balls were backed up by his highest flyball rate since 2010, and they were helped by more time removed from his double sports hernia surgery to fix the woes that sapped his power in 2015 and perhaps 2014. The 34-year-old has compiled a batting average lower than .290 just twice in 12 years. Can he sustain such high averages as he ages while keeping low walk rates (6.4 percent and 6.6 percent the last two years)? He hits the ball hard enough to believe he will. Cano won't realistically revisit the double-digit steals from 2014, but he's arguably the most stable four-category second baseman not named Jose Altuve. Cano warrants second-round consideration.
Cano went 1-for-2 with an RBI single, a walk and two runs in Tuesday's 8-1 Cactus League win over the White Sox. The All-Star second baseman got his first hit of the spring in the second, driving in the red-hot Jean Segura and giving the Mariners a 6-0 lead at the time. Cano has shown excellent plate discipline thus far, as Tuesday's walk was his fourth overall in three games. His constant presence on the bases has resulted in Cano tying Segura, Nelson Cruz and Guillermo Heredia for the team lead with four runs. The veteran is getting bit more work than usual this spring as a result of his imminent departure to join Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Cano, who along with teammate Nelson Cruz, will leave the Mariners in March to join Team Dominican Republic in the WBC, will see plenty of action in early spring training games, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. "They will play a little more than normal before they head off to the WBC. They want to get some timing down and make sure they feel good at the plate. You will see those guys play more than just every other day." The seven-time All-Star is already penciled in to the third spot in the order for Saturday's Cactus League opener against the Padres at Peoria Stadium, and is likely to see plenty of at-bats in coming games as well. Cano is looking forward to building on a 2016 campaign in which he blasted a career-high 39 homers, and both he and the Mariners appear intent on making sure he enjoys as close to a normal spring training as possible despite his WBC participation.
Cano, who will be a part of Team Dominican in the WBC for the third time, is looking to build on what was a career-best season in 2016, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Ironically, what appeared to be a significant setback on the surface may have been pivotal to Cano's 2016 success, as the intense recovery program he was forced to undergo after October 2015 double hernia surgery served as a more aggressive regimen than the 34-year-old may have otherwise undertaken last offseason. With an added dash of motivation to disprove any notion of a possible decline after a somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign, the veteran embarked on a resurgent season that culminated in a career-high 39 homers and 107 runs scored. Cano also eclipsed the 100 RBI mark for the first time since his final Yankees season in 2013 and posted a solid .298/.350/.533 line. With a sterling defensive reputation in tow as well, the seven-time All Star, who still has seven years and $168 million remaining on the mammoth 10-year, $240 million pact he inked in 2014, should see every opportunity to approach his stellar 2016 numbers while attempting to help the Mariners snap a 15-year postseason drought.
Cano homered twice Friday to give him 38 home runs this season and 100 RBI for fourth time in his career, as the Mariners kept their playoffs hopes alive with a win against the A's. Cano continues to pour it on during the stretch drive. In his last 10 games, he's hitting .385 with a 1.283 OPS, five homers, three doubles, a triple and 13 RBI. In addition to his career high in home runs, he's topped 190 hits for the fifth time in his career with 193. Batting .298, he needs four hits in last two games to reach .300 for the ninth time in his career. He and Daniel Murphy are the only second basemen with 100 RBI.
Cano hit three-run homer Wednesday at the Astros for his 36th home run of the season. Cano struggled the first couple weeks of September, but in his last nine games he has 10 hits in 37 at-bats with three homers, three doubles, a triple and 10 RBI. He is three RBI from the fourth 100-RBI season of his career.