Cano vs. Pedroia
Both Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano are having very good seasons. Even though Pedroia struggled in the first two months of the season, batting just .240 with a .332 SLG, he's turned it around and is now batting .310 with a .477 SLG. Even when he was struggling, the Red Sox second baseman was walking quite a bit, keeping his OBP around .350. Once the power kicked in, his overall numbers took off.
Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby champion has been fairly consistent all year for the New York Yankees. He ranks in the 90th percentile in both doubles and triples this season, however he's struggled to get on base overall with a .343 OBP, the lowest it's been since 2008.
Here's a look at how the two match up:
Pedroia has surpassed Cano in wOBA in the past couple months as his power numbers have risen. Through the first three months of the season, Cano held a 5 point edge in wOBA over Pedroia. This was all despite his lackluster walk rate of 4.5%, which ranked him in the bottom 8% of the league. However, through June 30th, Cano's .501 SLG% was 102 points higher than Pedroia's. Since that time, Pedroia has slugged a whopping .633, and his .388 batting average in that span ranks first in the majors.
As expected, Pedroia holds the edge against left-handed pitching this season. His .523 OBP ranks first in the majors and his .417 average ranks third. However, it's important to note that Pedroia currently holds a ridiculously high .437 BAbip(Batting Average on Balls In Play) against lefties. Only two other players in the American League with more than 100 PA against lefties have a BAbip over .400: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers with a .408 BAbip in 128 PA versus lefties, and Michael Bourjos of the L.A. Angels with a .418 BAbip in 118 PA. Pedroia's BAbip vs. LHP was .288 in 2009 and .266 in his injury shortened 2010 season; his career BAbip versus southpaws is .323. A correction in the next couple months could start to rein in those numbers.
Pedroia has also made good use of the short wall in left field at Fenway, particularly against lefties. In 78 plate appearances, his line is .455/.526/.742 with a .482 BAbip. In his previous three seasons combined at home versus lefties, Pedroia has .335 BAbip. While Fenway does tend to inflate BAbip, it's more than likely that Pedroia has benefited from a little luck as well.
Robinson Cano has fared as expected against righties; his 4.6% home run rate is about a 44% increase over his previous three year average. And his 3 triples off lefties this season matches his combined total from 2009-10. His walk rate, however, is down from 8.8% in 2010 to 5.5%. Meanwhile, his 14.8% strike out rate is a 47% increase from 2010 when he struck out in 10.1% of his PA versus RHP. Contributing to this problem has been Cano's propensity to swing at more pitches out of the zone. His current 37.4% chase percentage versus RHP ranks in the bottom 8% of the league.
Struggles and surges aside, the Yankees and Red Sox will look to their second baseman to help lock down a playoff spot down the stretch. And with both teams vying for top honors in the AL East, the production they get from their respective second baseman could be the difference maker.