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For Robbie Canó, we don’t really know

In an abbreviated season, Robinson Canó can find himself on either end of the performance spectrum when it’s all said and done.

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With a season as up-and-down as Robinson Canó’s age 36 campaign with the Mets was, it’s already hard enough to project where things will go from that point. The status of his 2020 season was even more in a state of flux when Canó disappeared without explanation after initially showing up to camp. The situation solved itself as Canó returned to summer camp on the fourteenth, seemingly no worse for wear after his sabbatical. If Freddie Freeman and Scott Kingery are any indication, a potential COVID-19 infection is a serious risk that could’ve been devastating to his vocational prospects, and more importantly, the personal health and safety of Canó and his family. Thankfully, it appears that for Canó, the worst case scenario has been avoided.

With his re-arrival at summer camp, gone are the questions of why Canó was absent and went off the grid when he did and the more mundane questions of his potential contributions to the Mets can re-take center stage. Anyone who watched the Mets in 2019 was aware of the peaks and valleys that Canó traversed over his 107 games in the orange and blue. While injuries and weeks of slumps are the things that stick out about Canó’s first year with the Mets, the second baseman did actually manage to put together 57 really good games if you clump together the first 24, and the last 33 games, of Canó’s 2019. Of course, that still leaves you with 50 sub-par games shoved in the middle, but don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

In his first 24 appearances with the Mets from March 28 until April 26, Robinson Canó hit a respectable, .284/.340/.453 with three home runs on the ledger. Of course, that isn’t exactly prime Canó, but it is still almost identical to the production of his 2015 and 2017 seasons in which he still managed to end the season with a bWAR figure of 3.5 and 2.8, respectively. A season along those lines wouldn’t exactly have been something to write home about, but for a 36 year-old second baseman who isn’t the crown jewel of the offense, you’ll take that every day and twice on Sundays. Unfortunately, Canó’s next 50 games took up most of the rest of the season and were not great, to say the least.

Over the next three months, Canó found himself up against more injuries than he had ever faced before in his career and managed to hit only .221/.260/.337 in the time when he was on the field with another 3 home runs over those 192 trips to the plate. If Canó’s early-season was akin to his 2015 and 2017 seasons, Canó over the middle 50 games of April, May, June, and July was something similar to 2010 Luis Castillo, a Guy to Remember for sure, but one that no man or woman wants to find themselves looking like. Thankfully for his full-season statline, a stellar performance against Zero-Time Rookie of the Month Winner Chris Paddack and the San Diego Padres was the turning point of Canó’s season.

Following his three-homer night against the Padres on July 23, Canó played 33 games from that point until the end of the season and looked much more Robinson Canó-ish than he had at any point since joining the Mets. He hit .289/.352/.553, his strikeout rate went down, his walk rate went up, and his smiles per nine were off the charts. When you put all his good and bad together, you end up with a .256/.307/.428 performance, the second worst season of his career, and a lot of questions about his future.

After all of this exposition you might assume that as we near the end here I have some sort of grand prediction for Canó over the 60 games to be played this year, but honestly, I really don’t. With a season so short and a previous season so wildly unpredictable, Canó could have and OPS ranging anywhere from .650 all the way up to .950 and I really wouldn’t be too shocked either way. The only situation that provides less clarity than 107 games of injuries is 60 games in a global pandemic and that’s what we’re stuck with right now.