Cano’s BA/RISP Conundrum

August 9, 2009 – 5:46 pm

Somewhat under the radar, Robbie Cano is now the team leader in batting average — he’s now hitting .314, passing up Derke Jeter.  As has been well-documented, though, as good as Robbie is hitting of late, he’s been a total disaster when up with runners on base — hitting an incredibly poor .205 with RISP. In fact, that’s the worst BA/RISP on the team! Now I’ve never put all that much stock in BA/RISP (see here), as it always seems to regress to a players’ overall BA over time — but still, to lead the team in BA and be dead last in BA/RISP does smell like something is going on.

Here are the stats for all the Yankee regulars:

Player BA BA/RISP Diff.
Robinson Cano 0.314 0.205 0.109
Derek Jeter 0.312 0.275 0.037
Mark Teixeira 0.284 0.269 0.015
Johnny Damon 0.282 0.333 -0.051
Melky Cabrera 0.282 0.244 0.038
Jorge Posada 0.281 0.276 0.005
Brett Gardner 0.275 0.298 -0.023
Hideki Matsui 0.263 0.264 -0.001
Alex Rodriguez 0.258 0.255 0.003
Nick Swisher 0.245 0.218 0.027

First thing to keep in mind when looking at stats like these is that even though Robbie’s difference is over 100 points, that’s just 10%. So it’s not nearly as bad as the .314 vs. 205 comparison makes it sound. He’s essentially 10% worse with RISP. Also note that of the ten regulars, eight of them have a difference of less than 40 points, or 4%. Only Johnny Damon is actually batting significantly better with RISP, at the rate of about 5%. For all practical purposes, only Damon and Cano actually hit a whole lot differently with RISP. And I have to believe that in and of itself is somewhat of an anomaly. Eventually some balls are going to start dropping in for Cano when he does have RISP, and conversely Damon is probably going to end up making more outs with RISP. And long term, they will regress towards a difference of zero, just like everyone else.

Probably the important thing for Cano at this point is for him to realize that this is nothing more than a statistical oddity, and not let it get in his head. And I’d bet that’s exactly what Joe Giarardi and Kevin Long are preaching to him right now.

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