Robinson Cano Returns to New York

It took a couple of extra days, but the Mets finally pulled off a blockbuster, bringing elite closer Edwin Diaz to New York and welcoming Robinson Cano back, albeit to a different borough. Despite missing 80 games thanks to a PED suspension, he still performed like typical Cano, posting a wOBA nearly identical to his career average. What might the move to Citi Field have in store? Let’s find out what the park factors have to say about it.

Park Factor Comparison
Team Basic 1B as L 2B as L 3B as L HR as L SO BB GB FB LD IFFB
Mariners 96 98 96 82 100 103 99 97 102 97 107
Mets 93 94 97 89 99 102 101 97 101 98 110
Park factors are from 2017, as 2018 hasn’t been posted yet

Welp, let’s make this short and sweet — Cano shouldn’t see much of an influence from the change in park factors. End of post.

Oh, you want some real analysis? Okay, here goes…

So both parks suppress singles, but Citi Field does so a bit more dramatically than Safeco Field. By itself, that could mean a marginal decline in BABIP. Cano owns an above league average BABIP for his career, and is coming off his highest mark since 2014. This, after two straight seasons just below the .300 level. We probably would have projected some regression to begin with, and now the park switch means the potential for an even greater degree.

Doubles park factors are nearly identical, but triples are not. While both parks significantly suppress triple totals, Citi is less unfavorable. Of course, that hardly matters for a 36-year-old who has walloped a total of zero triples total in the last two seasons, and has only recorded five over the last six seasons. So this park factor is meaningless for Cano’s offense.

It’s always a surprise when you see a guy move from one neutral home run park to another. That’s the case here, as Safeco was perfectly neutral for left-handed dingers in 2017, while Citi was just a hair below neutral. Cano’s HR/FB rate dropped to 12.8% in 2018, his lowest mark since 2014, and his second lowest since all the way back in 2008. So does a minor power rebound offset some of the age-related regression we can expect in that rate, resulting in a similar mark in 2019? His xHR/FB rate actually suggests that this wasn’t a down home run power skills year at all, reversing a trend of two straight declines in the metric.

The plate discipline and batted ball distribution factors are so close that random noise is going to have more influence than the change in parks.

Overall, our one season Basic factor tells us that Citi is a bit more favorable for pitchers than Safeco. Cano might lose a couple of singles, but everything else should remain similar…at least from a home park perspective.

Our depth charts currently project the Mariners to possess a slightly better offense than the Mets, but that’s before Cano and includes Jay Bruce and his .313 wOBA forecast. Adding Cano to the mix and subtracting Bruce would likely push these offenses to…you guessed it…even footing. Everything is so even!

Between the negligent difference in park factors and similarly projected offenses to help drive his runs batted in and runs scored, Cano sees minimal fantasy value change. Carry on folks, nothing to see here.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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3 years ago

You forgot to mention that since Cano is now a member of the Mets that he is now doomed.