Cano is the Yankees MVP
The Yankees do not have a true AL MVP candidate this year, even though people are trying to make Derek Jeter into one. Jeter, who is obviously one of the most popular players in team history, is having a fabulous year, but is not a true AL MVP candidate because he is not even the MVP of his own team. That title still goes to Robinson Cano, despite the notion that he is only having an average year.
A lot of the views on this have to do with expectation. People thought before the season that Cano would be competing for the AL MVP. While he is not doing that he still should be solidly in the top 10 of the voting and is a borderline top five candidate. At minimum he is still the team MVP by a good margin over Jeter.
This is not to discredit Jeter’s season at all. The fact that we are even having this discussion about him this season is stunning. However, the facts remain that Cano has had the better season. The only advantages Jeter has over Cano are batting average, which is wiped out by the fact that Cano has a higher OBP, and that he has hit in the clutch better. Cano should have way more than 82 RBI, but he has a .762 OPS with RISP, while Jeter has a .788 OPS with RISP, so it’s not that big of a difference to make up for the fact that Cano basically leads everything else.
Cano has double the home runs Jeter has, his WAR is 6.2 compared to Jeter’s 3.5, he has an .890 OPS compared to Jeter’s .800 OPS and he has an .377 w/OBA compared to Jeter’s .350 w/OBA. Jeter’s game isn’t based on power, but again his advantage in average is washed out by the fact that Cano’s OBP is higher. Cano holds a huge edge in all the power and slugging numbers, which is a big deal. Also, we have not even gotten to the difference between them defensively.
Cano absolutely blows Jeter away in the field. Cano is one of the best at his position defensively, while Jeter is one of the worst. Jeter may make all the routine plays, but his range is awful at this point. You can even see the difference in range when Eduardo Nunez has been at shortstop lately. Cano has a great 6.1 UZR and his 4.67 range factor ranks 2nd in the AL among second basemen. He turns the double play as quick as any second baseman in the league with his amazing arm, great footwork and a lightning fast transfer. Also, he can make throws falling away from first base that no other second baseman can. Jeter on the other hand is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Jeter’s UZR is an egregious -13.4. UZR is not everything in determining range, but if you watch Jeter you can tell his range is very limited at this stage in his career. The Yankees can live with it because Cano and Mark Teixeira are elite defenders and Alex Rodriguez is above average.
The point of this article was not to discredit Jeter at all. It is amazing to watch him put up this season at the age of 38. He is a legend and as the captain is still the unquestioned leader of the team. Nobody could have seen this coming and watching the legend play this year has been one of the highlights of the season. However, the numbers don’t lie and they say Cano is the MVP of this team despite Jeter being the one mentioned in MVP talks. The Yankees have been very fortunate to get this kind of offense from their middle infield. Nobody else can really compete with them. However, despite the perception, Cano has had the better season out of the two of them.