I have written articles on Cano on this site before and I love him—but he has two major problems.
First, he is too good for his own good.
What I mean by that is that he is so quick and has such great range and such physical skills that he makes the game look easier than it really is. For that reason he always looks as though he isn't making the full effort.
And not many fans can appreciate the raw talent Robbie has because it never looks like he is really trying.
Which brings me to my second point: Sometimes he isn't trying.
Sometimes it will be for one at-bat, sometimes for just one pitch. But for whatever reason, Cano cannot keep his head in the game for every single play.
As an example, he will come to the plate and on the first pitch he will square as though he is going to bunt at a time when even the blind cotton candy vendor in the third deck in left field knows it is not a bunt situation.
And he gives up a strike doing it.
Or he will hit a ball and stand and admire it or question it or try to determine if he hit it where he wanted to or God knows what.
Over the weekend against the White Sox he hit a liner into left field and just stood at the plate and watched it. He didn't take off with the crack of the bat. This happens way too often.
On defense he sometimes "smooths" himself into errors that should never happen.
You can forgive an error such as Jerry Hairston Jr. made last night, which ended Andy Pettitte's perfect game, because it was just an error. But sometimes Robbie looks as though he is just trying to be "too cool for school" and boots a ball he could catch in his sleep.
Having said all that, let me repeat: I love Robbie Cano.
I am not sure that there are five players in the entire major league that have his God-given talent right now.
His hands are so soft and quick, both in the field and at the plate. Comparisons to Rod Carew are not overblown. And if he could keep his head in the game all the time he might be able to win some batting crowns as Carew did.
In the field there is no one, and I mean no one, who can match his skill. He made two plays on short pop-ups in right field last night that not many second basemen are going to get to.
But again, he takes time out when he needs to be in the game.
If Derek Jeter had as much pure physical skill as Cano he would have hit .360 for his career and won every gold glove they have to give away. Jeter was born with a lot of talent, but nowhere near what Cano has.
Jeter never takes a play off—not even one pitch off. Cano needs to emulate his double play partner in grit and determination.
And Jeter has to look at Cano and wonder, "What if?"
Jeter's "What if?" has two permutations. First, he has to think, "What if I had Robbie's skill set?" Second, he has to look at Cano and wonder, "What could he do if he ever really tried?"
If Dustin Pedroia had Cano's physical ability, he would be MVP every year and hit 50 home runs, stop global warming, and end world hunger.
If Cano ever matures mentally there won't be any second baseman in the game who will be close to him. He has come closer to that this year than ever before.
The problem of being so skilled that people don't appreciate him will never be solved. He can solve his own problem if he can tune his psyche to match his body.