Robinson Cano: What Gives?

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout during the game against the Minnesota Twins on April 19, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

For whatever reason, at least for me, it doesn't seem like the Yankees have had such a great offensive start to the season. They ranked 3rd in major league baseball in runs score on Tuesday before managing to score only one run in their last two games against the Baltimore Orioles, sinking them down to 7th in the majors in run production.

The Yankees have scored 121 runs in 24 games, good for slightly over five runs per game. This puts them on pace to score approximately 817 runs this season, 50 less runs than they put up in 2011. While they haven't necessarily been putting up monstrous numbers, they're still on track at the moment to have a respectable year offensively.

A huge part of the reason I feel as if New York hasn't really gotten going is due to the lack of production from their cleanup hitter, Robinson Cano.

Cano is off to his slowest start since signing his current contract back in 2008. His wRC+ after 24 games sits at a lowly 83 and his triple slash is .255/.308/.367 with a wOBA of .297. He's also only muscled one ball over the outfield wall at this point in time. While hitting .255 and reaching base over 30% of one's at-bats may not classify as a "slump", it's certainly felt that way while watching Cano this season.

However, as the cleanup hitter for the New York Yankees, his production thus far is unacceptable.

Here's a look at his last three March/April's:

2009: 34 for 93 (.366), .400 OBP, .581 SLG, 5 home runs, 16 RBI, 18 runs scored, .363 BABIP

2010: 34 for 85 (.400), .436 OBP, .765 SLG, 8 home runs, 18 RBI, 21 runs scored, .377 BABIP

2011: 31 for 97 (.320), .340 OBP, .639 SLG, 8 home runs, 21 RBI, 18 runs scored, .307 BABIP

So what exactly gives? Well, Cano suddenly can't hit lefties worth a lick. Cano is a .296 lifetime hitter against southpaws (1,313 ABs), whereas he's hit right-handed pitchers at a .311 clip (2,889 ABs). Regardless, .296 against left-handed pitching for a left-handed batter is fantastic, considering all the emphasis placed on lefty-lefty matchups these days.

In 2012, after 35 ABs against lefties, Cano is hitting .171 with a .216 OBP. Yes, I understand the sample size (2.67% of his total ABs against lefties in his career). But, something clearly isn't clicking at the moment. This is slightly problematic, given the fact that 35.7% of Cano's 2012 ABs have come against left-handed pitching and his average is .171.

In fact, the difference between his ability to hit left-handed and right-handed pitching this year is remarkable.

Cano vs. RHP in 2012 - 19 for 63 (.302), .357 OBP, .460 SLG, .316 BABIP

Cano vs. LHP in 2012 - 6 for 35 (.171), .216 OBP, .200 SLG, .207 BABIP

While Cano has proven he can still hit righties, his performance against lefties will need to improve. It's hard to believe Cano only has four runs batted in after 24 games sandwiched between Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

It'd be juvenile to sit here and complain that Cano hasn't been the player we're so used to seeing, but it would be great to see him turn the season around with a huge series out in Kansas City starting this evening.

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