Robinson Cano Powers Mariners Without Power (July Player of the Month)

Cano in July: 24 G, 108 PA, 34 H, 1 HR, 8 R, 11 RBI, 11 BB, 11 K, 3 SB, .354/.426/.490

Robinson Cano lost out on a lot of home runs when he moved from Yankee Stadium to Safeco. He has only nine so far in 2014, and the ZIPS projection system has him on pace for 14, which would be tied for the lowest season total of his career. Nevertheless, he remains as productive as ever. Already he has more steals than ever before, with nine! And his on-base percentage has found a new peak as well: .398 as of this writing (previous high: .383 last year). Cano has more plate appearances and talent than any other Mariners hitter, to the point that Seattle would not be in the playoff picture without him. In other words, he is doing just what they paid him $24 million to do. (Worry about the final nine years of his contract some other time, will you?)

In July, his best month as a Mariner, Cano scored 8 runs and drove in 11–credit him for 18 runs as a result, since when he hit that one home run, Cano himself counted as both a run and an RBI. The Mariners as a team scored 73 runs in July, by far the fewest in the American League. Cano’s 18 runs account for 24.7 percent of the Mariners’ total, which is right in line with the other top players in the sport. Last year, using the same crude method [(Runs – Home Runs + Runs Batted In)/Team Runs], Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen both accounted for about one-fourth of their teams’ respective run-scoring totals.

There is a better way to determine how many runs a player creates: Bill James created Runs Created for that very reason. Wikipedia has the mathematical details, so I’ll spare you those. All you need to know is that Cano’s box score stats suggest he was really responsible for 19.58 runs, or 26.8 percent of Seattle’s 73. By this method of calculation, individuals almost never account for more than 20 percent of a team’s run production. That Cano did for a month basically means he put the team on his back, which is rather popular in Seattle. Don’t blame him that of the 14 Mariners to bat at least 100 times this season, only three (Cano, Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders) have been any good.

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More things made possible by taking only a month’s worth of data: crazy batted ball statistics. Cano hit 78 balls in play in July. Of those, 27 were line drives–35 percent! Most of those line drives went the other way: 12 to opposite field, eight up the middle, seven to the pull side. Cano also hit 41 ground balls, seven fly balls and three pop-ups. Cano hit 40 balls to the outfield and 28 fell in safely for a hit.

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