CRUNCH: Cano at 1B
Smurf City, Here We Come?


The Think Tank plumps for Robinson Cano at 1B, with subvariation N-C5 slotting Marte to CF, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor to DP.  This would also be an all-kids-all-the-time cutback, sparing us $9M Trumbo bucks that (we hope!) would be deployed elsewhere.

Dr. D is a position scarcity guy; he always drafts 2Bs and SSs in the first round.  This is how you set up a core of Stars, which --- > allows you to stay light on your feet, grubbing values at corner Scrub slots.  But let's take a look-see:


2016 Mariner Off (wRC) Def TOTAL
Cano, 1B 90 +10   +100 runs
Crazy Legs, 2B 65-70  (proj in 600 PA) = +65-70
Chris Taylor, SS 50  (19 in 250 so far) +5 +55
Marte, CF 65 +5 +70


Compare dat to da $9M costlier Mark Trumbo/Edgar version:


2016 Mariner Off (wRC) Def TOTAL
Cano, 2B 90 -5 at second +95 runs
Crazy Legs, CF 65-70  (proj in 600 PA) = +65-70
Marte, SS 65 +5 +70
Trumbinator, 1B 60  (prorated) == +60


The 4-position total on the "athletic team" clocks in at +295 runs, on the "Trumbo" team +295 runs for $9M more.  You lose only -5 runs by moving Cano, since you figure on a +15 runs bounty with his glove.  I think we could call that a "best case analysis."

The "athletic team" also banks on a solid year from Chris Taylor, which certainly isn't a given.  Essentially you're sacrificing a lot of "solidness," predictability, in order to get quicker and more dynamic (Taylor has upside).


Note 1:  Earl wrote about the correct way to construct a baseball team, Three True Outcomes, walks and homers except that he wouldn't have done it in Kansas City.  He bellyached and moaned about the way the Royals, in such a big, fast park would drop their infielders back 10 yards and still easily throw Boog Powell out at first.  "But if we tried it, it wouldn't work because of the Royals' speed down to first.  Everything they tried worked, and we looked absolutely foolish.  There's only one park in the league where I'd play for speed, and that's Kansas City."  In other words, even Earl would have trashed his beloved 3-run homers for the sake of speed and contact in the right park.

Kansas City in 2014-15, we notice, are having a fair amount of success playing this way.


JeDi speaks in terms of designing the team to the park.  To Jack Z, this meant lefty power.  To the 116-win Mariners, it meant having the two best CF's in the game roaming the outfield.  There will never be another Ichiro in RF, but the next best thing would be two legit CF's.


Note 2:  There is a Critical Mass factor here, a Tipping Point, that can occur when the whole blinkin' defense is full of Adrian Beltres.  The pitchers throw different; they expect good things to happen.  You could (it says here) move Cano to 1B AND put Crazy Legs in left or right field alongside Denard Span.  I guess you got $9M to find a Span and a 2B?


Note 3:  Cano had a -7 runs this year according to both Dewan and to Fangraphs' UZR.  However, the Fans' Scouting Report gave him sensational grades across the board:  8/8 for instincts, 6.5 for second step, 5.5 for speed, 8/8 for hands, 9/8 for release, 8/8 for arm strength, 9/8 for arm accuracy, 8/8 overall.

He looked smooth and unhurried, no doubts there .... John Dewan charted him for:

  • = up the middle (plays, not runs)
  • = to his left 
  • = in the air
  • - 6 right at him
  • -10 plays total

From where I'm standing, Robinson Cano is still a classy 2B and the positional adjustment is a minimium of -15 runs when moving between 2B and 1B.  In other words, play Joe Shlabotnik at 1B and you'll need a 2B worth 15 extra hitting runs before you start to break even.

It's an interesting idea, and would make the M's 10 miles more athletic on the face of it.


Note 4:  With Cano at 1B, we've got a bit of a logjam at the 1B/DH/RF corner.  Into one of which slots we must smash a certain 39.8 home run #3 hitter.


Note 5:  You run a 3-4 defensive alignment (3 down linemen, 4 linebackers) over the 4-3 not because one formation is inherently better than the other, but because you got 6 great linebackers and 0 great DL's.  

Guess this one would be driven by how "stacked" you think the M's are (or not) at MI vs CF/RF.  In any case, the JeDi Smurf City of Light?  I liiiike eeet ...


Dr D




From last year?

Felix: less

Cruz: more

Cano: less

Seager: same

Ackley: depended on how bad an idiot you were. In other words: less

Miller: same

Jackson: same, but that's bad

Rodney: less

Bullpen: less

Rotation: less

Smith: a little more

That's a lot of things going wrong. I think we're gonna be good next year.

hanjag's picture

Jackson same????? Not by a mile. Jackson rallied at the plate before being traded. Thise year a partial plus+. Last year in SSS he was a huge - with the bat.  Nothing more to complain about from you Rick. 


Now Smurf city. I don't really like it at all. Cano to 1st? His bat is big for a 2 bagger but doesn't carry the same caveat to your proposed destination. 

The Drop Trumbo to save $ is a crock.

Billy Beane loves to pick up Logan Morison, and Mark Trumbo in the walk years and let them compete, or job share, or step aside for someone moving up from AAA. 


I liked that 2nd 1/2 offense. Can we pretend not to expect that any old Failure Taylor is finally going to click and be someone that contributes to winning team play. He may may shine in the mionors but until he begins to show me he can hit in MLB I am not building a roster around him being anymore than injury filler in AAA.


1.  It's better not to fire off a first post that says "Hi there Community!  And Hi there Mr. 10-year community pillar; what you wrote was really stupid."  That's true anywhere, but more so at SSI.

2.  It's better to post sober.  Well, unless you work for the M's.  Then, knock yourself out.

3.  The community tone is not to respond to others' ideas with "Drop Trumbo Is a Crock."  Please treat others' ideas with respect.

4.  etc.

5.  Let's say we re-boot here, Hanjag?  We're all friends here and we respond to others' posts the way we'd want them to respond to us.

Looking forward to your first post, which hopefully will be matched to the community tone.




I appreciate the kind words, but he did admit he was nitpicking. In the Internet world, that's pretty darn civil. We just have a higher standard here, and I do respect your vigilance to keep it that way. 

To the point he raised: Did Jackson really exceed your expectations, Hanjag?  97 OPS+? A .312 OBP from our lead off hitter? If so, well, maybe that's the real problem - our expectations for how we were going to win the West.


One thing that is OBVIOUS from watching the playoffs this year? Our "expectations for how we are going to win the West" need to go up.

Seriously, the talent, especially the athleticism gap between our non-star players and those of these playoff teams is shocking to me. This must be what DiPoto was talking about. So many young guys who are big, strong, fast, skilled, and can hit or pitch. Where are OUR guys like that?! Haven't WE been the ones with all those high draft picks over the years? How Houston, Chicago, New York, KC, get all those guys and we've got squat?! Even LAA got Kole Calhoun, who is a complete, athletic player.

Watching the playoffs, it's as if Seattle has been planning to excel in 20th century baseball while these up-and-coming-and-now-here teams have planned and now deployed 21st century teams. I can't help but wonder if this is an unseen aspect of our player development failures. And perhaps even our medical and training failures.

Guys, we need to up our game more than we think.


Hey guys,

He's been playing with a sports hernia IIRC) for quite a while, so his defensive prowess decline is to be expected.  He's been more than fine the past few years.  I'm not seeing evidence that he's lost it, eyond being hobbled this year.

That said, on the face of it, I like the Cano to 1B move....if Cano does.

I think I like it more with Marte at SS, Miller at 2B and some sort of Jon Jay (purchased with the Trumbo/Morrison bucks) in CF.  I think, anyway. But I quite like Taylor at SS, btw.  He's was a 0.8 dWAR guy there last year in less than 50 games.  He was actually better in AAA at SS this year than last.  His RF/9  was 4.71!!!  He was at 4.3 in AAA and MLB last year.  Marte was a 4.35 combined this year.  Marte had a .972 MLB fld% this year....identical to Taylor's!  Taylor was at .962 last year.  

There isn't much difference between the two guys, although Marte looks the more exciting out there. Taylor can pick it, too. 

On 2nd thought, the kiddie corp deal isn't bad, Doc.  

But Cano remains a classy 2B in my eyes, too.  

You don't have to move him.  But if you remind him that Carew made that move, he might not complain too much.  


Basically, if/when Cano moves to 1B the club will be hoping for something akin to M's-era Olerud production, yeah? 

M's Watcher's picture

When we signed Cano to the decade contract, one of my first thoughts was his eventual move to 1B as he aged.  Given the front office/manager changes and current personnel, it make a lot of sense to consider it this off-season.  Still, it means we have the need for lot of roster turnover of several excess 1B/DH types.  In that case, the only way Montero stays is as a back-up C.  Trumbo and LoMo have even less utility.

bpj23's picture

The thing about it is that if we're going to build for speed and defense, Cano is exactly what I'd want our 1B to look like.

Olerud is a good comparison. What we wanted for pennies on the dollar out of Kotchman (and, of course, didn't get- you get what you pay for, so they say).

When Brad Miller could slot in as your 2B and be the 7th best hitter in your lineup, and actually hitting in the 7-hole, with only your SS and C hitting behind him, that's a Shamu sized offense to go along with a Moby Dick sized defense.


John Olerud was one of my faves.  But even comin' out of college he didn't have the athleticism that Robby has in his, um, batting helmet.  So could definitely see DiPoto toying with the idea.

Gotta go with Moe here, all things considered.  And it ain't like Robby is going to be fighting to get to the locker fulla 1B gloves :- )


The bigger problem, aside from salaries, is the lack of depth that comes with moving Cano to first base.

With Cano at 1B...

- No depth or redundancy at any position inside the organization.
- Your 10M saved is instantly depreciated at positions up the middle, might not buy full value vis-a-vis CIF/COF.
- If the organization is not-athletic, why create a logjam that will exacerbate the above problem? Your dollars for donuts gets weaker when the market demand for those positions are higher.

It's definitely a creative idea, but like Moe said, I just don't see Cano causing a Jeter for the org just yet.

The bigger question is what the result of moving Marte to CF and Miller to 2B is; will it create OVER performance or UNDER performance?

I like the Cano/Marte matchup in the middle.
If Di Poto is valuing synnergy, I don't see him breaking that.

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