Not Safeco's fault
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Don't blame Safeco Field.

The Seattle Mariners ballpark has a reputation for killing fly balls, but it isn't the reason why new second baseman Robinson Cano has one home run in 21 games this season.

Cano owes that to a ground-ball rate of 57.7 percent, which is up there with such non-power hitters as Everth Cabrera and Adeiny Hechavarria and ranks as the 19th-highest rate in the majors.

The second baseman has a career ground-ball rate of 48 percent and has never had one higher than 52.2 percent in a season. From 2008-13, his highest ground-ball rate was 48.7 percent.

Cano's career ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (GB/FB) is 1.55, but he has hit 2.56 grounders for every fly ball this year (41 grounders, 16 flies).

The increased ground-ball rate is most likely related to an increased percentage of pitches down in the strike zone.

According to Brooks Baseball, Cano has seen two-seamers (which Brooks classifies as sinkers) on 22 percent of his pitches so far.

Prior to this season, Cano faced a two-seamer on 20.8 percent of his pitches, and last year he saw one 19.9 percent of the time.

Even the one home run Cano hit this season came on a pitch below the knees that he belted into the second row on a low line drive.

It looks like we can connect the increased percentage of two-seamers to the opponents the Mariners have played this season.

Twelve of Seattle's 22 games this season were against the Oakland Athletics or Los Angeles Angels.

According to FanGraphs, the A's rank third in the majors in two-seam usage and the Angels rank seventh.

Unfortunately, those two teams are in the AL West along with Seattle so the Mariners have a combined 27 games left against them. However, just 11 of those games are left before the All-Star break.

Facing some pitchers who aren't wearing an "A" on their caps may be all Cano needs to re-establish his power game.

Because there isn't anything overly worrisome about Cano's strikeout rate, chase rate or contact rate when swinging at pitches in the strike zone, fantasy owners should be buying low on the Mariners second baseman.

And give Safeco Field a break, will ya?




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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