Baseball’s a difficult game, especially as a hitter. Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams once explained that you’re supposed to hit a round ball with a round bat and hit it square. Some guys have it, most don’t. Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano definitely has it, and he’s been able to hit the ball hard at the major league level for 13 seasons.
On Thursday night, Sept. 21, in a 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, Cano ripped his 300th career home run over the center field wall at Safeco Field. Now that he’s reached a historic milestone, where does Cano fit into the history of the game?
Cano is just the third second baseman to hit 300 home runs. The others are Rogers Hornsby, who ended his 23-year career in 1937 with 301 homers, and Jeff Kent with 377. At 34 years old and six years left on his contract, Cano is all but a lock to end his career with the most homers by a second baseman in MLB history.
Though he joined an elite group of power-hitting second basemen, Cano hasn’t always been known for hitting the ball over the fence, but instead into the gaps. Cano is a double machine and joined an even smaller group this season when he became the second player ever to hit for 30-plus doubles in 13 consecutive season. The other player? Stan Musial.
Cano has already positioned himself with some excellent company, but he’s likely not finished. With 77 homers to go before he reaches Kent, there’s a good chance Cano becomes the all-time home run leader among second basemen, and it won’t be close. It would take only 13 home runs per year for the next six seasons to reach Kent, and Cano has never hit fewer than 14 jacks in one season.
As for doubles, Cano isn’t likely to reach Tris Speaker’s all-time mark of 792, but he can easily reach the top three. If he plays through his 40-year-old season, Cano will need to average 35 singles per season to pass Musial for third on the all-time doubles list. He’s averaging a shade over 39 as this season wraps up. He’ll have to start getting out of the batter’s box quicker if he wants to reach Pete Rose at 746 two-baggers.
No matter where he ends up on these lists, Cano is a lock for the Hall of Fame. His ability to stay on the field (he’s never missed more than 40 games in a season) and maintain consistency through his 13-year career is nothing short of remarkable. The unfortunate thing for this Mariners fan, though, is that he’ll likely go into Cooperstown wearing pinstripes.
Photo by Brigham Berthold