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Collette Calls: Where Should Cano Go On Draft Day?

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

Robinson Cano ended 2013 as the ninth-most valuable fantasy player in 15-team standard, 5x5 mixed leagues. The Rotowire Dollar Values tool calculated his value at $31, placing him in the top 10 with this group of fantasy superstars:

1. Miguel Cabrera - $49
2. Chris Davis - $48
3. Paul Goldschmidt - $43
4. Mike Trout - $42
5. Adam Jones - $36
6. Andrew McCutchen - $33
7. Hunter Pence - $33
8. Edwin Encarnacion - $32
9. Robinson Cano - $31
10. Alfonso Soriano - $31

So, imagine my surprise when I saw this tweet from Greg Ambrosius, the man behind the magic that is the NFBC :

Ambrosius followed that up with a tweet stating Cano was going in the top six before he signed with Seattle. A third stunner was the fact that in the most recent draft, Cano was drafted after Jason Kipnis.

Meanwhile, even after missing a large chunk of time due to PED suspension, Ryan Braun is barely getting penalized.

All in all, Greg's tweets over the last 24 hours have invoked this kind of reaction from me:

I was not the only one. I reached out to some of the other fantasy notables in the industry that I have mock-drafted with recently and here are some of the thoughts they shared:

"That's ridiculous, in no small part because it doesn't seem to take into account the changes to Safeco. I guess you could argue Cano's context numbers will be dinged, but it'll be hard to have a much lesser context than the 2013 Yankees' lineup. I wouldn't move him down at all -- he's somewhere in that 1.3 - 1.6 mix after Trout and Cabrera."

"I would clearly consider Cano a first rounder, and would still take him at six or seven, and surely ahead of Kipnis. I try to pay very little attention to ball park factors. I do realize (last letter on this laptop died) there are easier parks for power, but, i also think hitters can hit and pitchers can pitch, and environment does not really matter that much. I also would suggest Jedd Gyorko does not hit in a hitter friendly park, and well, he did pretty well. Finally, guys do play half their games away anyway." - Lawr Michaels

"I'd drop a little more than that due to the weak lineup around him, but still late first round."

"Typical market overreaction. I can see him going as low as bottom of the Top 10 but if he's sitting out there and I'm drafting 7th, I'm all over that. Trout, Miggy, Cutch, Goldschmidt are gimmes. Then I'd have to consider Cargo, E5 and Braun if I'm not risk-averse; Adam Jones and Ellsbury are less risky. Cano is right in this group. That's my Top 10. Today, anyway. " - Ron Shandler

"Still middle to late first for me. For the SB factor, I'd opt for McCutchen and Goldschmidt before him, and even perhaps Ellsbury, though that's riskier. From there, Cano is in play on my board."

"With the Mariners, Cano lacks upside. Virtually no steals, and a poor chance to hit 30 homers. And while he should drive in and score his share of runs, it's hard to see him being near the top of the AL in either category. But oh man, the consistency!"

"The lack of upside pushes him out of the top ten for me, but the consistency keeps him in the first round."

"What's 25-95-95-5-.305, with little risk worth from a second baseman?"

"One caveat with Cano that I've rarely heard anyone mention -- what if the pressure of the massive contract and being "the man" with a new organization weighs on him? I know he should be well-versed in pressure, but he's never had this kind of target on his uniform before. If he hits .250 in April, the boo-birds could come out quickly!"

"I agree that he still deserves to go in the first round as the clear #1 2B but his value definitely takes a hit due to the ballpark (no cozy right field porch at Safeco) and inferior supporting cast. And he's never been a base stealer. Figure somewhere in the #12-15 overall range. Personally, I'd rather take Pedroia 15-20 picks later."

"The shift to Safeco doesn't change my opinion of Cano. Even if Cano somehow lost 20 runs/RBI (a pretty significant drop) he would only have dropped eight slots last year in my earnings formula. A 10 run/RBI dip would have dropped him three slots last year. That's probably realistic if you feel you must ding Cano. He's a mid to late first rounder in my opinion. "

"Mid second rounder for me. Last season's numbers put him at 13th overall and I don't think he'll match them. FWIW, I don't give a position bump but I may give a reliability bump so if I picked a riskier guy in the 1st I may jump Cano a little in the second to balance the risk. I'm looking at .305-23-90-90-5 -- not bad but the lower R+RBI total dings him. FYI -- I also rank Votto and Wright lower from a depressed R+RBI." - Todd Zola

Two projection systems have published their 2014 data for Cano - Steamer & Oliver.

2013 Final278110770.314

Leaving Yankee Stadium and that lineup for Safeco Field and the Mariners' lineup will have some effect on Cano's numbers, but it is not like Cano is a pure power hitter. This is his spray chart from last season:

Source: FanGraphs

As you can see, he uses all parts of the field and now inherits a friendlier opposite field gap in left-center than he had in New York. Cano has power to all fields and we are not even sure what the final lineup will look like in Seattle on Opening Day. They have added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to the fold and are likely going to deal the likes of Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak to further help improve the roster.

Cano earned $4 more dollars than Kipnis last season and $7 more than the next second baseman on the list. Kipnis had a big season, that was a tale of two seasons. In the first half, he hit .301/.383/.514, stealing 21 bases and hitting 13 home runs. In the second half, he hit .261/.343/.371, stealing nine bases and hitting just four home runs. Cano's numbers were big last season despite a decimated Yankees lineup, which talent wise, lines up with what the Mariners look like in 2014.

Let me be clear, Cano should not be falling out of the top 12 in your drafts. He should not be taken after Kipnis. If I am drafting this month and have the swing pick, Cano doesn't get through me. Cano being taken 20th, let alone 13th, is a steal for the owners who took him there. There will be times to worry about Cano during this 10-year contract, but 2014 is not that time.