Cano’s Slump in (Recent) Historical Comparison

Because I’m still winding down from having seen “Mishima” at Ebertfest, and because I’ve had this issue rattling around in my skull for a couple days, and because I’ve been delving into stats lately, I figured that I’d tackle something that had come up over at The Sommer Frieze which, if people aren’t reading, they really should. Mike Sommer mentioned that there is hope for Cano this year–though he needs to do a lot of hitting from here on out–to recover from his early but prolonged slump. Mike mentioned Jeter’s own slow and prolonged 2004 swoon, when he was batting .189 by the end of the day May 25th, with having sat one game out of 44 to that point.

I think this is a good comparison for a couple reasons. Jeter went on to bat .292 despite that long slump, and Cano can do that as well with a better approach and lots of hot hitting as his at-bats increase. I’d also argue that their slumps are similar in another respect that bears some watching. While Jeter struggled mightily, I’d argue that he had a somewhat productive slump or, perhaps more accurate, a not entirely unproductive slump. While it seems an oxymoron, the numbers bear it out. When Mike mentioned Jeter’s 2004 struggles, I remembered Jeter compiling hits even as his average dropped or stayed very low. In the first 44 Yankee games of 2004 (through May 25), Jeter batted .189 (36-190), with an OBP of .249–bad for sure. But considering that Jeter had the long 0-32 slide from the second at-bat of April 20 until his first at-bat of April 29 when he homered off Barry Zito, and also had an 0-17 stretch from his second at-bat May 15 to ending it with his first at-bat of May 20, he otherwise wasn’t horrible. If one were to factor out that collective 0-49, he batted 36-141, or .255 and, in the first 44 games, 43 of which he played, Jeter had hits in 26 of them. He had 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, scored 17 runs, drew 12 walks, but fanned 36 times. He usually got at least a hit every other game outside those long slumps.

Cano is more or less doing the same thing, getting a hit every two or three games but otherwise struggling, yet avoiding the kind of long slumps that Jeter had to start 2004. In other words, while he’s been bad at the plate this year, Cano has hovered similarly to Jeter statistically, getting a hit less frequently than Jeter did in 2004 but still in half the games he’s played (12 in 24). He’s a mess at the plate, but due for a warm-up. Like Jeter, he’s hovered low, and has actually struggled more of late, going 5 for his last 42–at just about the same time that Jeter suffered through his 0-32 malaise. Though Cano is 14-90, he’s fanned at a slower pace (11 times in 90 at-bats) than Jeter did in his first 43 games of 2004 (36 in 190 at-bats), and has walked more often (7 in 90 at-bats) than Jeter did then as well (12 in 190 at-bats). Cano’s downfall has been the ground out, while Jeter struck out at an alarming rate during his 2004 slump.

Cano should sit at least once against the three lefties Cleveland will put against the Yankees this series. This might allow him to refine his approach and clear his head of all the garbage he’s done lately, chasing pitches well outside the strike zone and helping pitchers way too often. But there is hope, and some modest statistical comparison I believe supports that possibility.

Published in: on April 26, 2008 at 2:24 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. well i don’t think any of us feel that the situation with cano is hopeless. most are feeling frustration that this quite similar to his extended bad period last year except that he is striking out less and getting many weak grounders to second. there didn’t see to be a moment when he snapped out of it, but when he did, he stayed good for the year. i feel there must be some thing other than transitioning from the warmth of spring training to playing in the cold that plunges him into these abysmal slumps come opening day. if i were the GM he would be speaking to someone in sports counseling to try to see what is underneath what is going on in the field.

  2. it would also be interesting to compare his start in 06 to the last two starts. i’ll look into that. now

  3. Great job looking behind the numbers, Jason. And thanks for the plug.

    BTW (and I mention it at the Frieze)…that Tough Love works. No sooner does Shelley get the call to come to Cleveland than the Big G has a 2-HR game. Funny.

    Now for more tough love with Cano. Sit him against these lefties coming up, and give A.G. a shot in a game or two.

  4. well its’ scary to report that, unless i was reading the charts at baseball-reference wrong , he’s having a worse start this year than last.

    in 2006 he got going pretty quickly

  5. I agree with you guys on the various things. I too agree that it’s more than the warm-to-cold transition, Mike. I think it was just a slow start with Cano that unfolded into a panoply of struggles, really receding into bad habits. That to me is the key–his slumping body during his swing. His form is a mess, and that he’s young and a see-the-ball, hit-the-ball hitter to a degree exacerbates veering into bad habits.

    By the way, I’m loving the free passes to Ebertfest, a real blast. I’m going to see “The Cell” with J-Lo, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio late tonight, and John Turturro’s “Romance and Cigarettes” with Gandolfini, Sarandon, Walken, and one of my all-time favorite actors Steve Buscemi.

    Thanks for the kind words, Mike. There’s little question in my mind about the Tough Love Magical Mystery Tour. I was laughing during the game last night as Big G cranked his homers, think about who might need the strenuous, Yankee bloggers therapy next. Maybe that Joba. Clearly, he’s been pampered far too long. Great to see Gonzo getting some more playing time. I agree about Giambi playing today. He creamed that ball off Perez last night, but for an out.

  6. Hi Jason, I am so glad to hear you had such a great time at the game in Chicago.
    I started reading Mike’s blog, and it is great.
    I like this quote from Ron Maclean, “Statistics are like bikinis’, they show you alot, but they don’t show you everything.”
    Maybe Jeter misses Torre, and Cano misses Bowa. LOL

  7. Dianna, I was thinking about you when the Habs clinched against Boston last week. I watched the last 12 minutes of it on Versus. I was also pleased that they won the opener against Philly. I’ve never liked the Flyers, which goes back to their at times intense rivalry with the Sabres. True about the stats.

    The game was a blast. We’ll surely go again next year.

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