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July 02, 2007

Robinson Cano's Problem This Season

Here's Robby Cano, this season, to date, in terms of how he bats in day games and night games:

CanoDNSplits.jpg

That's a heckuva story there, no?

In night games, this season, Cano bats as we expect him to - a .300 hitter with some decent pop (for a middle infielder). But, in day games, Cano hits like he was a pitcher.

This tells me one of two things: Either Cano is out too late before day games or he needs glasses that will help him see the ball better during day games. (Maybe it's both - but, it's probably more one than the other.)

Perhaps Cano should ask Antonio Belize for a sip of his Red Bull before day games?

I'm not saying that Cano is a bad kid. Stories tell us otherwise. But, maybe he's one of Posada's going through the motions guys - at least, in day games?

Where are those greenies when you need them this season?

Posted by Steve Lombardi at July 2, 2007 10:24 AM

Comments

BA-OBP-SLG

2006
D: .388 .411 .565
N: .317 .339 .503

2005
D: .283 .324 .434
N: .303 .318 .469

2007 could be one of those random fluky things.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 10:51 AM

I'd like to know if Robbie is hitting the ball well in day games and they're just finding gloves, or is he popping up to the infield, striking out a lot & hitting weak grounders.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:07 AM

I enjoy the blog - really, I do. But you're reading way too much into random statistics. Basic probability tells us there will be players who have, say, an OPS on Wednesdays that is 400 points less than the average of his other 6 days of the week. Clearly that's something about Wednesdays that are bad for him, right? No, of course not.

How about May for ARod? He must have been resting every night in April and June and partying all through May...

Things are just random. There will always be extreme splits. As Raf points out, this was not the case in the past, and as analysts, one of the biggest things we can look for is correlations from year to year (this is how DIPS theory gained such prominence - there was no correlation in pitchers' batting average on balls in play from year to year).


You can find extreme splits like this anywhere - there are just not enough AB in the season to make everything even out and regress to the player's true ability. Look at any longtime player's career stats, and all the splits will be very similar. But look at a single season and you're doomed to be fooled by stuff like this.

Just another example - I picked Posada because you mentioned him in your post:

.985 OPS on grass, .530 on turf. - clearly he should never be playing on turf, right?

Posted by: bobo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:12 AM

~~~I'd like to know if Robbie is hitting the ball well in day games and they're just finding gloves, or is he popping up to the infield, striking out a lot & hitting weak grounders.~~~

His daytime BA on balls in play is .205 - and it's .363 at night.

He has 2 BB and 19 Ks in 111 day-time PA.
He has 12 BB and 31 Ks in 207 night-time PA.

So, he's whiffing more, slight, in day games. And, his batted balls are turned into out more easily in day games.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:15 AM

If Melky is Cano's running partner at least they likely stop partying at different times.

Melky's day games 926 OPS
Melky's night games 556 OPS

Maybe there's something else you can think of to trash Cano with.

I know, you're just mentioning the stats. No innuendo intended.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:20 AM

~~~Things are just random. There will always be extreme splits.~~~

Yeah, you're right. Small sample size, luck, stuff like that. It's just a coincidence that Cano sucks during the day and bats like a productive player at night. Just a fluke. It's as random as flipping a coin.

Geez, I wonder why they even bother keeping stats at all?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:22 AM

Steve, do you not believe at all in the concept of statistical noise or small sample size?

I'm not trying to be a jerk here, and I really don't know what to make of the night/day disparity. It could be small sample size or it very well could be related to a day/night issue for Cano.

Posted by: Nick from Washington Heights [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:32 AM

~~~If Melky is Cano's running partner at least they likely stop partying at different times.~~~

FWIW, Melky's got one full season under his belt, compare to two for Cano - and, no All-Star team's made, compared to the one's for Cano.

Maybe he can't "afford" to party like Cano - if that's what Cano is doing.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:34 AM

~~~Steve, do you not believe at all in the concept of statistical noise or small sample size?~~~

Sure I do. If a guy goes 2 for 5, I know not to put him in the HOF based on one game. But, I also know that 111 PA is not small. And, I know that the difference between .179 and .311 is huge.

There's enough here, for me, to start to question whether there's a cause for this effect.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:38 AM

You said it, not me.

Is it not a coincidence that Posada sucks on turf? Is it not random that ARod was merely average in May?

Funny you mention coin flippin, because here's my favorite analogy:

Let's have a coin flipping contest. We want to find the guy who can get heads most often.

We take 32 guys and have them flip a coin 5 times. Statistically speaking, one of them is going to get heads all 5 times. Clearly he's the best at flipping coins, right?


Saying a player is better at night based on such a small sample size is a HUGE statement.

Just look at random players and you'll see that extreme splits are very common. Craig Biggio was the 3rd player I looked at - he's much better at night this year. But he was much better during the day last year.


You will see, if you were to run some regression from year to year, that there is no correlation from one year's day/night split to future years. This has no predictive value. On the other hand, something like a batter's split vs. RHP and LHP WILL have a positive correlation from year to year - that's how we know the effect is "for real".

It is 99.9% a coincidence that he has sucked during the day. There is a tiny, tiny chance that, like you say, he is doing something this year which caused this. But this is so unlikely it's not worth mentioning.

I don't know how to make it any clearer without going into very detailed statistical theory. You take any player, and I think you'll agree that there will be SOME difference between their day/night stats. You take 400+ hitters, and that difference is going to vary. Some are going to have a large difference, and some are going to have a small difference. You've stumbled upon one of the players that randomly has a large difference. It means nothing.

Posted by: bobo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:42 AM

~~~It is 99.9% a coincidence that he has sucked during the day.~~~

But, if all stats are random, should it not be a 50% chance that it's a coincidence?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:46 AM

Ok, so we've found where we disagree: 111 PA IS small. You can find streaks of 111 consecutive PA for any player where they've sucked.

How about this:

5/27/2001 to 6/24/2001:
Jeter went .208/.286/.307 for an OPS of .593.
This was in 110 plate appearances.


How many more examples will I have to give to satisfy you?

And please don't take my comments the wrong way - I'm not trying to attack you or anything. Like I said, I enjoy the blog. But I think the more people that understand the part that statistics play, and can tell when they're meaningful and when they're not, the better.

Posted by: bobo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 11:52 AM

Forget all the stats. I'm not a stat guy but i love reading about them. Ask yourself this.

2 outs, bottom of the seveth, runners on second and third and down by one.

Do you want the 2007 Cano out there batting?

Not me. I don't remember any one of his hits - all I remember is the garbage he swings at and the garbage he strikes out on.

Whether he parties or not, I don't care. He just flat out is not good this year.

Tell me different.

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 12:04 PM

"But, if all stats are random, should it not be a 50% chance that it's a coincidence?"

Not at all. The math gets complicated (and admittedly I'm not a statistician) but essentially it boils down to this:

Let's keep it simple and talk about batting average. , and let's talk about a random set of 100 AB. We want to know what the chances of a .265 hitter (26.5% chance of getting a hit) getting 18 or less hits (the .179 BA).

I just wrote a little program to compute this because I'm not nearly good enough with the statistical formulas, and found this:

I gave him 100 AB, and a 26.5% chance of getting a hit in each AB. I repeated 1 million times.

He got 18 or fewer hits 31,524 times, or 3.2% of the time. Pretty low, right? Not when you consider that there are over 400 hitters. One out of every 30 or so is going to have a 100 AB streak this bad.

So yes - given an individual player, it's rare that he does this bad. But odds are that there are going to be about 14 hitters in the league that are like this - you just found one of them.

Posted by: bobo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 12:19 PM

There's enough here, for me, to start to question whether there's a cause for this effect.
===============
But there is also enough to suspect otherwise;

Career
D: .299 .328 .448 (469 PA)
N: .310 .335 .479 (908 PA)

Interesting as to the number of night games that are played; near double the day games... Has it always been that way? Or is this a development that has appeared within the last 10-20 years?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 12:20 PM

~So, he's whiffing more, slight, in day games. And, his batted balls are turned into out more easily in day games.~

Thanks. I don't think it has anything to do with partying, just that this year he's not doing well in day games. Maybe he's just not picking up the ball and recognizing the pitch as well (while his strike out rates are about the same, his BB rate in night games is much higher.)

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 01:16 PM

It's interesting that most of the good/bad points of was watching are on display here

1. good: the interest in the stat side of the game, bringing to your reader's attention all the myriad details that the game offers. Many times I've seen you (Steve) do a lot of work and you deserve a lot of credit for what you do.

2 bad: the snide partying put down on Cano. Most of us here are Yankee fans Steve and we don't appreciate the sneering putdowns, the accusations of a team packing it in when you have nothing NOTHING to back up those statements with. And don't pretend that Jorge's words the other day had anything to do with packing it in, which is what you put forth periodically with "apathy" etc. Underperformance and focus are issues, giving up is not.

3. worse: when someone offers up a competing analysis, you go instantly defensive and hostile, so much so you need to be reassured that no slight is intended and that it's coming from a friendly source.

4. Steve, you have one of the best Yankee blogs going. Remember who your audience is and be prepared to debate. You are always too quick to take things the wrong way and toss in that sarcastic barb "Geez, I wonder why they even bother keeping stats at all?" You're lucky to have someone as obviously smart as bobo to come on and debate you on your stat presentations.

Be like me. Save your cynicism for Lil' Papi and the Roid SAWKS. Remember Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment:"Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." Thou shalt not speak ill of a Yankee. I mean, except for Farnsworth and Mike Myers and, let's see, there's Bruney and his walks, Hot and Cold Abreu and ah...

Posted by: dereksTeam [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 01:39 PM

Okay, really.

How long before the rest of you begin to say the magic words:

"Robbie Cano is just not that great."

I'll speak ill of a Yankee if it's the truth.

Farnsworth. Myers. Villone. Abreu. Damon. Giambi. CANO.

Please, someone tell me that Cano is NOT terrible this year. I'm begging someone to change my mind.

I do not want him at the plate when it matters.

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 01:54 PM

"Robbie Cano is just not that great."
--------

Are you really willing to bury someone as young as Cano because he hasn't been that good this year? He was good as a rookie, great in his second year, and has been basically average this year. At 24, I hardly think you have to throw him in the trash and assume he's garbage.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:05 PM

Nope, he hasn't been good this year. But tell me that in the 2nd half of 2006, when everything he hit was a rocket to left field, you didn't want him up down by 2 in the 7th.


We don't know if that's his true level of ability, or if this is. That's part of the fun of it. But we do have short memories, and a "what have you done for me lately" mentality. I'm as guilty of it as anyone is.


My mostly unsubstantiated theory on Cano is this - he's pulling the ball too much. If you compare his hit charts from 2006 and 2007, you'll see his hits (and fly outs) were pretty evenly distributed around the field last year. This year, there's a strong bias to right field. I'm not sure if there's anything to it - I just remember how he was going the other way with such power last season after he came back, and decided to check the charts.

Thanks for a kind words, dereksTeam - like I said, I don't mean my posts to be an attack on Steve at all - I just enjoy debating about baseball, like we all do, and coming from a mathematical background, stats in particular.

Posted by: bobo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:05 PM

In terms of a true statiscal comparison, we're not talking about a sample size of 111 PA. We actually talking about a much, much smaller sample size of 18 PA. The difference between Cano's .198 OBA in day games and .357 OBA in night games comes down to 18 PA. If you're going to say that there is statiscal evidence that Cano performs poorly in the daytime, you are really basing it on 18 outcomes, not 111 outcomes.

It's the same mistake people make when saying A-Rod perfoms poorly in the playoffs. A 1 for 14 ALDS performance doesn't mean he had 13 unacceptable outcomes. He really only had 3 unacceptable outcomes because a 4 for 14 performance would be considered acceptable by most fans.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:13 PM

Maybe it is time to "Roberto Kelly" Cano?

See:

http://www.waswatching.com/archives/2005/11/who_is_robinson.html

~~~My mostly unsubstantiated theory on Cano is this - he's pulling the ball too much. If you compare his hit charts from 2006 and 2007, you'll see his hits (and fly outs) were pretty evenly distributed around the field last year. This year, there's a strong bias to right field. I'm not sure if there's anything to it - I just remember how he was going the other way with such power last season after he came back, and decided to check the charts.~~~

Could it be the adjustment game? Pitchers watched him pepper the 5-6 hole on the infield for two year now and have stopped giving him anything middle-out on the plate - - forcing him to pull as everything is now tight on him. I don't know this for fact. I'm just SUGGESTING that it could be the reason why the charts are different.

Then again, if he is pulling off the ball, it's not happening when he bats at night, FWIW.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:13 PM

I'm willing to bury him at 24 and here's why:

To an average fan like me, it doesn't even seem like he's trying to fix himself.

I know, when he's up, and it's 3-1, he's going to ground out. I also know, when he's up, and it's 0-2, he's going to swing at the high fastball and miss it.

Sure, he was great last year. He's not great this year. I should just give him a pass and accept his poor performance because he had one great year?

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:27 PM

dave, Cano's been terrible this season. Are you satisfied?

Whether he truly is awful is another question. There are things called slumps, and baseball is a game of adjustments. He did show some potential last season. No?

Posted by: Nick from Washington Heights [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:38 PM

Sure, he was great last year. He's not great this year. I should just give him a pass and accept his poor performance because he had one great year?
-------

Okay, I guess you believe in instant gratification and long-term views be damned. That's fine.

You shouldn't give him a pass, but the team should stick with him because he's halfway through his third year in the league and the history of Robinson Cano has not been written yet. He was great last year and he's average this year. Which is the real Cano -- or it somewhere in between? We don't know yet because the history isn't lengthy enough to judge on.

You can't give up on every player because he has a down year. It happens.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 02:40 PM

Anyone proposing to trade Cano should declare who would play 2B.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 03:18 PM

I'm not saying trade him. And, really, I'm not giving up on him.

I just don't see the point in defending him. There are a lot of people who won't admit that he is TERRIBLE this year and that irks me for some reason. He's terrible. He's slumping all year. Get over it. Next year maybe he'll be better. Maybe he'll be worse. I just don't get all the blind defenders.

If he comes out next July, after a great first half and says, "You know, Jorge talked to me last year and told me I needed to stop partying and focus on baseball", will you all then apologize to Steve?

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 04:12 PM

Some will. Others, never.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 04:17 PM

If he comes out next July, after a great first half and says, "You know, Jorge talked to me last year and told me I needed to stop partying and focus on baseball"
===============
If that were the case, that he was a party animal, how would you explain his minor league numbers, which are worse than the numbers in the show?

MiL: .278 .331 .425 (6 years, includes rehab in 05 & 06)
ML: .319 .342 .490 (2 years)

He hacked in the minors, why should we be suprised that he hacks in the majors?

It's not about alleged partying, it's about making adjustments.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 04:54 PM

If he comes out next July, after a great first half and says, "You know, Jorge talked to me last year and told me I needed to stop partying and focus on baseball", will you all then apologize to Steve?
------------

The problem is that there's no evidence that Cano is out partying. It's a long-reach assumption based on his daytime numbers this year. There are many logical reasons he's not playing well during the day. Maybe he's an insomniac -- we don't know. Steve tends to assume every problem a player has is somehow connected to drugs, partying and women. It's sort of like the guy at work who thinks anyone who is quiet is a weirdo serial killer.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 05:06 PM

if you follow cano's monthly ba over the past three years you will find he generally stinks it up in april may (hit .211 one month in his first or second year) Albert Pujols hit .241 in one of his early months. So if you are waiting for him to finally hit a groove and hit .391 for a couple of months then the odds are on your side, because he has DONE it. Same as Bobby Abreu, by the way. Both of these guys have shown flickers of sentient batting approaches the past week, which is why Joe rushes them into the #3 slot. Alas, so much for hunches.

Guys that play for the Yanks have the contracts and the bankable stats. So Cano has an "off year" ala last year for Arod. He can still recover and hit .300 for the year. Same as Abreu. Last time I checked it was the beginning of July. Their best months have always been July and August. The thing I don't like about Cano this year is the "stylin" shit he pulls occasionally, particularly on defense. But I guess if you are going to play with Jeter and his jump throws, you need to compete here and there.

The good news is that by all that is right and fair we should be 16 or 17 games behind. Or hasn't anyone noticed that after going 2 and 9 over the last 11 games, the needle is still stuck on 11 games behind. I'm no statistician but the name of the game has always been "compared to what" and right now this is a race between two teams that genuinely suck. Now with the SAWKS, you're talking about a condition that is traditional. I mean this is year three of the 86 year cycle, am I not correct?

Of all the guys we should be preparing to give a fond send off to, Cano is certainly not the first in line. He's a keeper until he stinks it up for a whole season (or two). If he wants to get paid for that .342 season, he'd better snap out of it. Nobody is defending him. These are excuse prayers.

And now we're elevating Steve's partying sleaze comment to fact? Steve barely had the statistics square on that, never mind his cynical, slanderous aside.

dave24, get a grip. Is Matsui's 26 point decline in his average since mid-June because he is spending too much time with his porn collections? Hey, where does it end? The point is, you just can't say things like that about Yankee players. It's crossing a line between good baseball talk and sleaze. Now if you're talking Kevin Youkilis' porno collection, be my guest. No harm, no foul. It's a question of priorities and faith-based baseball.

"Some will. Others never." Yeah, right Steve-oh, you're the gold standard, my friend.

Posted by: dereksTeam [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 05:17 PM

~~~Is Matsui's 26 point decline in his average since mid-June because he is spending too much time with his porn collections?~~~

Matsui had a terrible injury last year - and is probably still recovering. That's his excuse. Cano has no such excuse.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 07:53 PM

I fall in between on this. I know statistics and these 111 PAs is not a "streak". It stretches over 3 months, home and away, against numerous opponents. And the difference is significant - it's not like he's putting up an OPS of .850 at night and .800 during the day.

There IS a special cause there. I doubt, however, that it is "partying too late".

Posted by: Sherard [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 2, 2007 09:11 PM