Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Value of Robinson Cano

I was reading a New York Times article regarding Robinson Cano's switch from Scott Boras as his agent to moving to Jay-Z's new group. The article stated:
Cano is arguably the Yankees' best player. He has a career .308 batting average and last year had 33 home runs and 48 doubles among his 196 hits. He is also considered a remarkably deft second baseman in the field.
I am well aware of Cano's offensive prowess but was unsure of his defensive skills. FanGraphs has excellent data on comparing players, and this chart shows the traditional metrics, as well as a couple newer ones for the top 22 second basemen for 2012:

Nothing too tricky here, except that FanGraphs does add a bit of extra data that is very nice with the breakdown of fielding errors (FE) vs. throwing errors (TE). There's no ranking yet, as the players are listed in alphabetical order. Take a look at the innings played, chances fielded, fielding percentage and UZR/150 (if you think I can explain it you are SORELY MISTAKEN, but if you're feeling particularly keen regarding your analytical abilities, go to FanGraphs' explanation and come back down to Earth with the rest of us).

This next chart will add some ranking. 

The first column (rPlays) ranks the plays per inning, or essentially range factor (or more accurately, RF/9 innings). The second ranks fielding percentage and the last is UZR/150 ranking, and the basis in which this table is sorted. These are strictly fielding numbers only, so it would appear that the NYT statement is right on the money with regard to Cano's fielding. 

FanGraphs has one last delicious bit of information not found elsewhere, which will be added in the last column of this chart:

Yes, it's the value column (in millions of dollars), and it appears that Cano was only about 30-35% better than the next-most valuable second basemen for 2012. This is sarcasm--anytime the leader in ANYTHING has a lead of that magnitude, they've achieved something quite extraordinary. Good signing, Jay-Z--I'm sure the money's tight these days and it's time to move onto the next meal ticket. Looks like you found him.

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