This morning, Jon Morosi of MLB.com made his bi-weekly call into the “Brock and Salk Show” on 710 ESPN Seattle. As usual, Morosi delivered excellent insight regarding the Seattle Mariners, plus he made a surprising revelation.
The Mariners are better with Robinson Canó.
Certainly, Gordon provides a unique energy to his team and it’s possible he’s a better defender than Canó. But the 35-year-old’s absence from the Mariners’ lineup is significant.
To prove my point, here’s a side-by-side comparison of Seattle’s run production numbers with and without Canó.
As you can see, the Mariners’ offensive numbers are down across the board since Canó’s injury on May 13. The team is averaging fewer runs scored with drops in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, home runs, and wRC+.
Despite the offensive downturn, the Mariners actually have a better record since Canó went down. The team had a 22-17 win-loss record on May 13 and they’re 26-14 since.
Less runs scored and more wins. How did they do it?
As we did with the offense, let’s look at the pitching staff prior to Canó’s departure and since.
Clearly, Mariner pitchers have delivered since Canó went down with the best performance coming after his first game out of the lineup — staff ace James Paxton threw a no-hitter.
Okay, I know what some of you may be thinking. Gordon is a better defender; thereby the staff is better without Canó at second base. For that reason, I compared opponent xwOBA for Mariner pitchers before and after May 13.
For those not familiar with xwOBA, it strips away defense and bad luck by using quality of contact (exit velocity and launch angle) and outcomes not requiring defense (strikeouts and walks) to gauge pitcher effectiveness.
This xwOBA comparison demonstrates the pitching staff improved even with defense removed from the equation.
In reality, the Mariners are better with Canó.
Sure, Canó isn’t eligible for playoff action and manager Scott Servais will have to juggle his second base rotation when Canó returns. But the 14-year-veteran’s bat improves their chances of breaking their 17-year postseason drought.
The Mariners are definitely better with Robinson Canó.