Robinson Cano is able to pass a field sobriety test at a moment's notice, reports Captain Jeter.
Most people wouldn't call Robinson Cano consistent. He has developed -- and probably earned -- the reputation for getting off to slow starts to the season, swinging his way into slumps, and having the occasional mental lapse. But in a brilliant showing of regular excellence, Cano has slugged .520, .534, .533, and .522 in his past four seasons.
For context, the average American League hitter is slugging .406 this year -- accumulating total bases at about 78% the rate of one standard Cano. Four straight seasons of being that consistent while being that much better than average is a great accomplishment. An accomplishment that is undersold because we say that anyone with Cano's talent should do things like that. It's not that easy, not even for Cano, so remind yourself that brilliant seasons from likeable homegrown stars are awesome and fun to watch.
Also, Robinson Cano walks now, sometimes.
In his first two seasons, spanning 1059 trips to the plate, Cano accumulated a grand total of thirty unintentional walks. One can only assume that when these walks did happen, he would need a quiet reminder from the umpire that his turn to swing the bat had now ended. This season, however, Cano has forty-eight unintentional walks and a 9.0 BB%, putting him ahead of the AL average of 8.0%. He has been about three times the walker of his 23-24 year old self.
To be fair, a walk is a product of both the pitcher and the batter, and the pitcher's input is part of the story too. With all of the damage that he has done and his reputation as a free swinger, Cano has seen the fewest pitches in the zone of any Yankee. I wouldn't throw him a strike either. But you can see how that would inflate a walk total.
More encouraging is Cano's O-Swing% -- the rate at which Cano swings at balls outside of the strike zone -- being a career low 32.1%. That's still pretty high, but not among the league leaders, where he usually resides.
When someone has had the kind of success that Cano has, I'm hesitant to call for a major change of approach. He has always been aggressive at the plate and it has correlated with some great hitting, but a gradual refinement of his batting eye should do nothing but help.
I won't say that walking more this season has made Cano a better player -- from a statistical perspective he's been about the same. Continuing to walk in the future, though, might make him a more complete hitter who ages more gracefully.