New York Yankee Robinson Cano put on quite a show last night as he outdueled Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) in the final round of the HR Derby, winning it with 32 total HRs. His 12 homers in the final round set a record for the derby.
Playing for the Yankees, a team that has big sluggers like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Cano's power sometimes gets short shrift. But after last night, it will be hard for anyone to ignore his long ball proclivity.
Cano seemed more than comfortable having his father, Jose Cano, throw to him last night. While BP pitchers usually soft toss fastballs one after another, one wonders if Cano could have produced even more HRs last night if he was facing sliders.
Since 2009, Robinson Cano has hit more HRs off sliders than any AL batter with 21, and second behind fellow HR Derby contestant and former derby winner Prince Fielder (MIL), who has 23. Those 21 homers tie the number he has hit off fastballs in that same span of time. His 8.0 HR% on sliders (highest among any pitches he has seen since 2009) ranks 5th in baseball behind Jason Giambi (9.1%), Russell Branyan (9.0%), Prince Fielder (8.3%), and Hideki Matsui (8.3%).
Since the 2010 All-Star Break, Cano has hit 11 HRs off sliders, best in the league. He has a 27.5% HR/FB rate on sliders, ranking him in the top 4% of the league. And his 11.0 HR% on sliders in that time is best among all major league hitters, even Jose Bautista (10.4 HR%).
If Cano is looking to top last night's performance in next year's home run derby, perhaps Jose will break out the slider in Kansas City.