The records are getting close to falling now. First, sometime in late July or early August, it will be most WAR at the position in franchise history. Or maybe it will be games at 2B. They will fall in close succession, and they will herald the coming of a blizzard of accomplishment and achievement that, when cleared, will cement what has been true since before he ever stepped foot on a field in a Mariner uniform: Robinson Cano is the greatest second baseman to ever play baseball in Seattle.
It has gone by so fast, and seemingly, so quietly. For a man coming from New York, with a contract worth nearly the amount we all vilified Alex for taking, so long ago, his presence is largely felt, rather than heard. He came with the jeers of Yankee fans at his heels, whispers of complacency, bordering on laziness. His second year here, tormented by a body and spirit in agony, his slow start led to the team’s first base coach blasting him in the media. “The worst third-place, everyday hitter I’ve ever seen.” In response, Cano was largely silent, until the season, when his official spokesperson, his bat, hit 39 home runs, the official statement on the matter.
Indeed, having been in Seattle for now nearly half of that massive contract, it is the stillness, and quietness, around Robinson Cano that marks him. Like his head at the plate, or the slow pause at second base on the turn, Robinson Cano himself seems to understand the idea of wasted motion and energy better than most. He is comported in the team’s clubhouse with a respect and status, for a roster often filled with players grasping desperately for the smallest amount of his success, borders on lordship. Whatever rumors of work ethic and effort that followed him here on poisoned tongues have long since washed away. “The Work” is one of baseball’s many equally revered and imprecise terms, and no one in Seattle puts in The Work like Robinson Cano.
Yesterday, Robinson Cano was fooled on a first pitch breaking ball. Out on his front foot just a touch, he would be easy for his hips to open early, his torso to turn, and his hands to guide his bat just millimeters higher than intended, rolling the ball over to second base. But Robinson Cano puts in The Work, and part of The Work is drilling to keep your hands, and weight, back. To slow down, and meet the ball where it’s at. Still head, still hands. Wait. Wait. Fire.
We say of other, more intimately beloved Mariners, “He is ours, and you cannot have him.” For Robinson Cano, soon if not now one of the ten greatest players to ever play here, and emphatically the greatest second baseman this franchise has ever known, it feels as though the current of that love has reversed. “The world lay before him, for his choosing. He chose us.” Halfway through our decade together we can’t say much more than, thanks Robbie.