Robinson Cano fantasy value for 2014
Any time you hear a hitter is going to Seattle or San Diego, it elicits the same reaction when a pitcher goes to Colorado or Texas. According to ParkFactors.com, Seattle is the second worst hitter’s park in the majors. Based on the deflated home-road splits of the top hitting prospects, Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley, as well as Adrian Beltre’s poor performance in his five years there (.266/.334/.442 slash line), it’s normal to assume going to Seattle dramatically hurts Cano’s value. However, Safeco has always affected right-handed hitters more than lefties. Also, in an effort to make the ballpark more hitter friendly, the Mariners made adjustments to the ballpark and brought in the fences last offseason, which it did (small sample caveat applies).
Last year was Robinson Cano’s lowest home run output since 2009, but his power potential has not declined. Keith Law spoke about this in his piece, “[he] generates much of that pop from his hips, which is the kind of power that tends to last longer into a player’s career.” There has been some talk amongst my friends that his home run total could dip below 20. The image below shows where all of his home runs (last year) would have landed if he were playing in Safeco. The image shows maybe one home run would not have made it out. If he were playing in New York, fantasy owners should have expected 25-30 home runs, but now, they should expect 20-25 with him more likely to hit in the mid-20s. His accounting stats will be fine, assuming Kendrys Morales and Jesus Montero begin the year in the opening day roster.
Image courtesy of Hit Tracker Online
The bottom line: Going to Safeco doesn’t improve his fantasy value, and drop off in his batting average and power numbers should be expected. Before the move, he was arguably a top-five pick, but now he should be taken in the last half of the top 10 because he is still one of the best hitters in baseball, plays a premium fantasy position and most importantly, never get hurts, averaging 160 games played the last seven years.