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Should We Be Surprised by Robinson Cano's 2016?

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Robinson Cano is doing dirty, nasty things to baseballs. Should we be surprised by a start this amazing, even if he isn't able to keep it up?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No one can deny that thus far, the Mariners are a good baseball team. None can deny that they are the current favorite to make the playoffs out of the AL West. Not a soul can deny that Robinson Cano has led the club thus far, and has looked mighty happy to do so. While the performance of the team as a whole feels largely sustainable, individual standouts like Robbie may not be able to keep up their stellar performance.

To understand just how good he's been this year, we need to understand what we normally would expect from the Mariners' second baseman. Cano's best offensive season to date had him sitting 49% above an average hitter, and he's consistently been in the 30-40% range throughout his career. During his epic second-half of 2015, Cano was 57% above average. Cano's line this year, through 152 plate appearances, would make him 70% better than the league average hitter, a mark that even a great like Ken Griffey Jr. was never able to reach.

Looking back at the second half of 2015, should we have seen that a start like this was possible from our fearless pivot man? After all, what's the difference between that extra 13% really? Well, over a full season, it's about a win-and-a-half, which is entirely significant and important. However, that extra 13% in a small sample can simply be classified as a hot streak, as long as you're willing to accept a 157 wRC+ as your baseline expectation.

There are absolutely elements of Cano's batting profile that are unsustainable, but we've seen him carry an incredible batting line for half a season, and we're not even a quarter of the way through 2016. Even with some regression, a repeat of what we saw in the second half is starting to feel not only possible, but inevitable. Hot streaks happen, and so do cold ones; while this won't last, it's not at all outlandish.

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