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Do the Angels Have the Next Robinson Cano?


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By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer - 

So I finally joined Twitter recently (@ettinone if you would like to follow me) and have become mildly obsessed with it. It is an interesting source of information and has a different feel from Blogs, forums such as Angelswin.com or Facebook for instance. It has also proven to be a source of inspiration to write as Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) made this thought-provoking statement earlier this week:

At first I thought “Really? Is Dan off his rocker?”

Then I said to myself “Hey wait a minute, Lindsey did have a solid AA season and he is young and maybe the stats might paint a different story! Go look!”

So I did:

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And there are some shockingly similar parallels in their Minor League careers.

In fact if this had been a blind side-by-side player comparison you probably would have decided that these two players are pretty equal players across their age 20-21 seasons.

Cano’s and Lindsey’s BB% and K% are quite similar over their Minor League careers. Cano had a Minor League BB%/K% rate of 6.55%/12.39% while Lindsey had a 6.09%/14.09% rate. The equitable discussion doesn’t stop there however.

Also, this year, in AA, Lindsey really made an impressive step forward in the power department, smacking 17 home runs in the Texas League. Although Cano clubbed an additional 7 doubles in his age 21 season both players ended up with pretty close slugging percentages (.457 vs. .441) and identical on-base percentages.

This coincides with the observed notion that among all tools power is usually the last one to develop. Both players appear to have discovered some additional power and strength in their age 21 seasons. Cano’s power approach continued to develop and Lindsey appears to be practicing and implementing a similar approach.

John Sickels, in his 2014 Angels prospect list, reported that Lindsey was making more of a conscious effort to hit the ball harder by sacrificing some of his batting average. This could be beneficial to Lindsey’s OBP in two ways. One it is helping him to be more patient at the plate by looking for the one right pitch to hit. The other is that as he becomes more of a power threat the opposing team will be less inclined to give him something good to hit.

However there are some differences in defense. Over Cano’s MLB career he has improved into a steady, above average defensive second baseman. As Sickels noted, Lindsey projects to be league average but is still young enough, like Cano, that improvements could be made. However, it seems likely that Lindsey will never quite rise to the defensive level that Robinson Cano has.

All of this discussion is moot if Lindsey doesn’t continue to develop and make the leap. Nothing is guaranteed in prospect development and reaching such a high level of play in the Majors makes this comparison a real long shot at this moment in time. Lindsey has to continue putting in the hard work if he wants to succeed at the highest level.

Taylor will likely start the season in AAA, barring a pre-season Kendrick trade. The Pacific Coast League is a known offensive-friendly environment so this is a real opportunity for Taylor to continue and improve his development, especially at the plate, if he wants to emulate Robinson’s career arc.

Cano, at age 22 in 114 AAA plate appearances, slashed .333/.368/.574 with 8 doubles and 4 home runs. This is where he truly started to emerge as a power threat and opposing pitchers began to pitch around him, helping to inflate his OBP.

If the premise of Dan’s tweet and this article proves to be true, expect Lindsey to produce a slash line somewhere in the .295/.355/.525 range with Taylor averaging approximately 1 HR every 25 plate appearances. This would be an ideal, perfect scenario.

However if Lindsey doesn’t follow the development arc that Cano did I still expect him to top his AA numbers playing in the PCL. Barring some horrible regression or BABIP bad luck I wouldn’t be surprised to see a minimum slash line of .280/.345/.485 with somewhere around 15-20 home runs over the course of a full season of plate appearances in that offensive environment.

Finally, there is one very important detail to discuss that could derail this Cano-Lindsey comparison: Platoon splits.

Cano, over his career, has learned to hit left-handed pitching quite well and it has helped turn him into a dynamic offensive force in the Majors. Over his MLB career Cano has a LH/RH split of .290/.318 which is pretty impressive.

In order for Lindsey to really walk in Cano’s tracks he will have to improve his ability to hit LHP. His Minor League LH/RH split since 2011 is .269/.308, which is a significant gap. This will have to be an area of focus if Taylor wants to avoid sharing platoon time at the keystone moving forward.

So in an ideal perfect scenario Lindsey has the capability to be a Cano-lite player, probably with a few less doubles. In the worst case scenario he is platooned at second base with someone like Grant Green who can hit left handed pitching well. That would still be quite useful but certainly not an ideal use of roster spots.

Either way Taylor has developed and proved that he belongs in the conversation to serve time on a Major League roster. The Angels likely have big plans for him and if he can continue to make improvements against left-handed pitching and develop even more power, it increases the odds of Lindsey approaching and following a similar career arc that Robinson Cano achieved.

That would be a genuinely good development for a farm system that has suffered over the last couple of years.WjELC8DCdN4

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Interesting comp and nice article, Robert. But the answer is "probably not," maybe "almost certainly not." Based upon those numbers, Cano's career trajectory - that of a perennial all-star and possible Hall of Famer - is a best-case scenario. What you, or Szymborski, don't really talk about is all of the similar players at age 20-21 that don't go on to be Robinson Cano.

 

That said, I do think Lindsey is a bit under-rated and could surprise many and be a solidly above average major league second baseman.

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Nice write-up Robert. It's a cool comparison but in 2005 at age 22 Robinson Cano became the full time starting 2nd baseman during the month of May and never looked back. Lindsey is now 22 years old but as long as Howie is here Lindsey will not get the opportunity to show his Cano. 

 

Yeah ... Howie is c**k blocking Taylor.

 

It's going to be fun watching this kid develop!  Good stuff, Robert!

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The Angels can't have any minor league players that might be good.  It would violate the order of the baseball universe.

 

Before Mike Trout references appear, he was selected in place of the Yankees.......so the Yankees were celestially aligned for drafting Mike Trout, therefore, universal balance is maintained.

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I think Lindsey settles in as a consistent 2.5-3 win player at the big league level. In his peak years, he'll probably provide some 4 win seasons but I don't see him getting a whole lot better than that.

Still, that's a really nice player. I'll be pleasantly surprised if he turns into a player anywhere near as good as Cano.

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I think the comparison is statistically valid, but we are looking at two different skill sets entirely. Cano had projectable power is a very smooth, quiet swing. Lindsey's isn't quite the same. Then when you add in athleticism and defensive prowess you realize you're looking at apples and oranges.

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To clarify something Dan Szymbowski was merely stating what the age comp was and I don't necesarily think he was advocating that Lindsey would take that development arc but the age 20-21 comparison is real.

 

And I think I clarified that a lot has to happen for Lindsey to even approach Cano's ability level which at this point would take an incredible amount of hard work on Taylor's part to make a reality.

 

Essentially the bare bones of Cano's skill set is there but Lindsey would have to really improve his platoon split, his defense, and his power to make this a reality. Even if does improve in all three areas I still see his max ceiling as a "Cano-lite" player.

 

Thanks again to Dan S. for the thought provocation. It was fun to think about the possibility no matter how unlikely it might be.

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Interesting comp and nice article, Robert. But the answer is "probably not," maybe "almost certainly not." Based upon those numbers, Cano's career trajectory - that of a perennial all-star and possible Hall of Famer - is a best-case scenario. What you, or Szymborski, don't really talk about is all of the similar players at age 20-21 that don't go on to be Robinson Cano.

 

That said, I do think Lindsey is a bit under-rated and could surprise many and be a solidly above average major league second baseman.

 

Totally agree with this. The Cano age comp tweet was so fascinating to me that it screamed "AW article" but the odds are against Lindsey performing at such a high level.

 

You are also right in that there are probably a significant number of players who have washed out with similar age comps.

 

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DAAAAAAMMMNNNN  Robert, you so crazy!!!

 

But yeah.  The odds of this happening are slim to none.  

 

Fun comp though, but Cano's got that sweet swing as Scotty said.  

 

I could see Lindsey ending up a much better defender than initially given credit for.  Griffin seems to have had a nice effect on both Kennedy and Kendrick.  

 

Taylor could produce similar numbers to the first 4 years of Cano's career sans the 300 avg.  but I don't see him turning a corner to hitting 25-30 hrs.  That said, he hit 17 in the Texas league with an .857 road ops.  He was clearly affected by Dickey Steven park with a sub .700 ops.  

 

I know the top 100 is usually filled with stats + upside, but I think he deserves to be there as his down side is likely that of an average to slightly below major leaguer with upside to be above average for many years.  

 

He's probably going to really crush this year at SLC.   

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DAAAAAAMMMNNNN  Robert, you so crazy!!!

 

But yeah.  The odds of this happening are slim to none.  

 

Fun comp though, but Cano's got that sweet swing as Scotty said.  

 

I could see Lindsey ending up a much better defender than initially given credit for.  Griffin seems to have had a nice effect on both Kennedy and Kendrick.  

 

Taylor could produce similar numbers to the first 4 years of Cano's career sans the 300 avg.  but I don't see him turning a corner to hitting 25-30 hrs.  That said, he hit 17 in the Texas league with an .857 road ops.  He was clearly affected by Dickey Steven park with a sub .700 ops.  

 

I know the top 100 is usually filled with stats + upside, but I think he deserves to be there as his down side is likely that of an average to slightly below major leaguer with upside to be above average for many years.  

 

He's probably going to really crush this year at SLC.   

 

 

Yeah Lindsey's numbers are MUUUUUCH more impressive if you look at his home/road splits since the Travs' stadium is such a killer for hitters.

 

At age 21 in AA:

home: 267 PA .237/.316/.369 7 HRs

road: 299 PA .301/.357/.500 10 HRs

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