New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano looks to be in midseason form with two weeks until Opening Day in Washington, DC. As we all know, Spring Training stats, while encouraging, sometimes turn out to be mirages and are not necessarily indicative of what’s to be expected this year, especially as he enters what most would consider the twilight of a likely Hall of Fame career.
But, wow, is Cano raking this spring.
Through nine Grapefruit League games (26 at-bats), the Dominican native is slashing .423/.464/.692 with two homers (video via the team of Cano’s homer off of Houston’s Gerrit Cole on Thursday afternoon can be seen here), six runs batted in, a double, and just three strikeouts.
Clearly, sustaining that level of productivity over the course of a 162-game season is beyond unrealistic. But if Cano can keep pace with his offensive output after returning from an 80-game suspension after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy last season, the middle of the Mets lineup could be one of the more treacherous combinations in the National League.
From August 14 through the end of the 2018 season (41 games; 179 plate appearances), Cano hit .317/.363/.497 with six homers, 27 RBI, 12 doubles, a .370 weighted on-base average, 140 weighted runs created plus rating, and just 24 strikeouts. Adding that type of offensive prowess to this finally-coming-together group of young studs and seasoned veterans could have extremely positive results on this team.
With Michael Conforto — who is primed for a very big season in this writer’s opinion — and newly-signed backstop Wilson Ramos hitting behind him, Robinson Cano will need to shoulder the load of getting things cooking, or at the very least keeping them going after, say, Brandon Nimmo gets on base for this Mets team to reach the plateau they’re in search of.
Bringing aboard a career .304/.355/.493 hitter who can still field his position quite well (four defensive runs saved and a 2.8 ultimate zone rating in 69 games at the keystone position last season) is a plus for this team any way you slice it.
Admittedly, the price it took for Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to acquire Cano and 24-year-old closer Edwin Diaz was steep, costing the Mets arguably two of their best prospects in Jarred Kelenic — who looks like a star thus far despite only appearing in three games for the M’s this spring (0-for-1, walk) — and Long Island’s own Justin Dunn, a right-hander (4.50 ERA over four appearances).
But if Cano’s proven anything over the course of his 14-year career, it’s that consistency is the name of his game. That’s going to help keep this team on an even keel when times get lean and the hits just aren’t falling.
Plus, he knows how to win. His experience, his championship pedigree, his tales of living the dream that every single player in that clubhouse yearns for, all of it; it’s all going to make this Mets team better and give them that much more chance to succeed. In this division, they’re going to need all the help they can get.