Robinson Cano has a way of making baseball look effortless. Which is all well and good when he’s batting his usual .310 with very good power. When he slumps, his usual manner makes him look lackadaisical and disinterested, even though he might be anything but.
Cano went hitless in a fifth straight game Sunday in the loss to the Tigers, and he’s now in an 0-for-26 skid that ranks as the longest hitless streak ever to be compiled in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The second baseman also made a key defensive miscue in the seventh inning today, mishandling the relay from short on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Quintin Berry scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on the play.
Overall, Cano is 2-for-32 for the postseason, though he does have four RBI.Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, with five apiece, are the Yankees leaders.
What makes Cano’s struggles all the more incredible is that he finished the season on a remarkable 25-for-39 tear. He was so hot that even if one sticks the 2-for-32 onto the end of that, he still has a .380 average in his last 71 at-bats.
Given that Cano is the Yankees’ best player, there’s not going to be any benching him. He’ll just have to hit his way out of the slump, something that figures to be pretty difficult with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the next two games. Cano has hit .226 with no homers in 31 at-bats against Verlander. He’s 2-for-11 with a homer against Scherzer.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.