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.

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About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on September 28, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. On point Matthew B. Nice read.

  2. I disagree Robi does not deserve MVP at all. He never hustles and is so lax when running the bases that on many occasions he should have been benched for it. If Girardi had any kind of sense he would have. Jeter definately deserves it just look at the numbers. Robi has a .168 average with runners in scoring position, Jeter is over .250 in that scenario.

  3. Look at the numbers? Lol dude I guess you didn’t read the article because I listed all the important ones. Sorry only reason you can say Jeter has had the better year is if you have a Jeter man crush like many do.

  4. CANO WANT THAT GOOD THIS YEAR, HE HAD LONG RBI DROUGHTS

  5. Cano has had an up and down year all season. If I were to give anyone the MVP award of the Yankees for the full season, it would be Jeter. For half the season, it’d be Ichiro.

  6. Cano blew it by hitting so poorly with RISP.

    But There Shouldn’t be any doubt that Cano is the best player on the team and one of the top players in baseball.

  7. Matthew B. Looks like Delia and Jim and Chris have man crushes.

    • Trust me Twasp, I respect Derek Jeter but I’m not much of a fan of his. Maybe when I was 10, but not now. Cano is the better hitter on the team and the better defensive player, I admit but this season Jeter has done better than Cano offensively after everyone thought he was done. I found that remarkable. I also find it remarkable that he’s passing legendary names like Cal Ripken and WIllie Mays. So I have no crush on Jeter but, I do think he’s the better hitter this season.

      • Delia Jeter has not done better offensively. It’s just not true. The only thing he leads Cano in is .Avg, which is wiped out by the fact that Cano’s OBP is better.

  8. Nothing much you can do Twasp. All I can do is provide the numbers and facts but if people are going to ignore them I can’t do anything.

  9. YOIU A FAN OF BRET GARDNER, who can hardly hit at all, but not a fan of jeter who is probably the best hitter of all time?

    • Best hitter of all time?

      Wow. Just wow.

      You trash Gardner for getting on base 36% of the time while playing two time FB winning defense and nabbing 50 bags, try and claim that Granderson is a GG’er, and now claim that Jeter is the best hitter of all time???

      Yikes!

    • You make Brett Gardner sound worse than he actually is. Numbers don’t lie. Gardner has a great OBP, he can easily steal 50-60 bases and unlike everyone else on this team, doesn’t even try to hit home runs. He obviously can since he hit 7 in 2011, but that’s not his game. I like speed better than I like players who are flashy and just hit home runs for show. Besides, there were better hitters than Derek Jeter. Jeter is one of the best but he’s not the best.

  10. I will accept the numbers but cano is not a player i would spend long term big money on. He is just so good at least in his mind that he doesnt hustle and regardless of the fact that he may beat out a play in the field or dive for the ball to keep it in the infield preventing a run or making foolish base running mistakes. Just not not my kind of guy. I would trade him for best available rather than a $200,000,000 contract over 8 years

  11. Over half of MLB players don’t run out every ground ball. Listing that as a reason not to sing a player like Cano is foolish.

  12. Cano is a beast at the plate and on the field. he is a duel threat.

  13. Nice article Matt.
    Even in a down season for Cano, i give him the advantage. He’s not hitting lefties as well this year, or getting the hits w/RISP as often as he did last year (~.300 in 2011) but his ISO and superior defense put him over the top.
    I realize there may be things the captain brings to the table that don’t show up on the back of a baseball card, but none of us can fairly comment on what degree any of that has an effect, nor can we say that Cano doesn’t contribute in similar ways. His loose and easy style of play gets knocked all the time which i don’t think is fair. It’s also what i think could lead to greater longevity that your average second baseman, who tend to fall off cliffs.
    Putting Jeter at #2 on the Yankees MVP list is hardly a bad thing considering who is at the top… the games best second baseman deserves his due.

  14. You made great statistical points Matt B., but to me, it has to be Jeter. There’s no doubt Cano is a better player overall, and has better stats than Jeter this year. But the fact remains that Cano has had a bad year for his recently set standards. He has 80 RBIs, but he should have at least 30 more. He’s missed countless of opportunities with RISP (not nearly as many as others on the team), and simply doesn’t seem to hustle enough to show he even wants the MVP, be it of the Yankees or the American League.

    Without Jeter’s leadership, clutch hitting, and solidly leading off for the majority of the year, the Yankees probably aren’t where they are without him. The fact that he’s remained healthy all year is also an amazing feat (knock on wood) for his age, and even still, if it’s a tie game Game 7 and the bases are loaded, forget Cano. I want Jeet up.

    I’m no saber metrics guy but I do love the classic stats – HRs, RBIs, AVG, etc. But to me, stats don’t matter in this comparison of two great players. Jeter overall to me is more valuable than Cano, this season at least. With all the struggles the Yanks have had, Jeter has been leading the way throughout. The same can’t be said for Robbie, as much as I admire his playing skills.

    • Brian, like Jimmy said you are not in the clubhouse so you really have no idea what Jeter does in terms of leadership. We can only go on the field where Cano has a big advantage.

      • Matt – Brian doesn’t have to be in the dugout to believe Jeter is a great leader. There is enough evidence from print and tv interviews with peers, players, coaches, mgrs and enough books written that cite related stories about his character, integrity, professionalism, work ethic etc. that support Brians belief.

        • Good point Twasp but all those people have there own theories on how it effects the team. Nobody knows for sure.

          • Nobody knows for sure “how much” quantitatively it effects winning. But I don’t think the professionals would argue that leadership isnt an important piece of winning. I can tell you from personal experience ( asbprobably you could too) that having a good leader helps wins games.

  15. I feel for ya Matthew. Made very similar points here: http://yanksgoyard.com/2012/09/17/who-is-the-mvp-of-the-yankees-the-case-for-cano/ and here: http://yanksgoyard.com/2012/09/19/some-facts-about-derek-jeter-and-robinson-cano/.

    Cano has been better in pretty much every way. Yes, maybe he should hustle a little more, but that hardly has a huge effect, and if anything that would show in the stats. As far as RISP numbers go, although Cano has struggled, he’s been better than Jeter with men on base with a .910 OPS compared to Jeter’s .805. There are also important “clutch” scenarios other than RISP. For example, in “Late and Close” situations, which is defined by B-R basically as within 1 run and after 6th inning, Cano has outhit Jeter by a ton. You’ve got to look beyond the RISP numbers to evaluate “clutchness”.

    Plus, using the “classic stats”, Cano has twice as many HRs, 25 more RBI (and equal runs), and is only behind by 18 BA points. And all this isn’t to mention Cano’s far superior defense. Honestly, it’s not close.

    • Excellent point about the clutch numbers Matt should have looked those up for this

      • Matt – why write Or argue about this…..Cano is GOD. He is the best 2b ever.

        They talk about Mays and Mantle and Aaron. Cano’s talent is right there. Enjoy it now it comes along once or twice in a century

      • Matt hunter,Matt B….

        The best stat to analyze which players hits contributed more to wins is the WPA/LI

        Matt – how does Cano and Jeter compare on that metric?

        • twasp: I dont have the data easily accessible right now, but in that first link I posted I brought up WPA/LI, and at the time I wrote it, Cano was leading Jeter, and I think the team, in it.

          • Matt hunter – Found your blog on SI. Cano 2.5 Jeet 1.15

            Nice statistical and baseball skill set ,,,good job.

            I took the WPA/LI. And added the TWASP IQ. (intangible quotient) to determine the MVP.

            Cano 2.5 + 1.0 = 3.50

            Jeter 1.15 + 3.00 = 4.15

            Jeter is Yankee MVP using these 2 metrics combined.

            • Wait what is that? How do you calculate it? Isn’t the point of intangibles that you can’t measure them?

              • The TWASP Intangible quotient was invented in 1989. It was first published in the sequel to Moneyball called TWASPball ™. I won’t go through the algorithms or variables used in the simulations but in short it looks at each players character profile and correlates it to the teams wins.

    • Your articles are great as well. This is an argument with all the Jeter nuts can get frustrating at time for sure lol.

  16. Brendan Quartararo

    You can’t be serious! Derek Jeter has had probably one of his top 5 best seasons! If they had an mvp for each team it would be Jeter! A-Rod even though he missed time is probably going to hit 20 HR this season and 30 next season so he would be runner up and Cano would be third.

    • Actually I can count about 10-13 seasons better than this one for Jeter. At the very least every one between 1998 and 2006. He’s been great for his age, but definitely not close to his prime, offensively or defensively.

      Also, A-Rod? He is literally worse than Cano in every category. How could he possible be ranked ahead of Cano? And why would next year matter for determining this year’s Yankees MVP?

  17. Matt B…
    I have no idea how many comments are in this thread but, not only did you bring the fans out of the wood work…you brought fans that read but don’t comment…very fine job!

    Is there a MVW for the writers on this site? You have my vote. Heck even the fans on both sides are commenting without losing it.

  18. Yes Matt B……good article….you don’t fully understand the topic…..but your excellent statistical skill set has made for another Matt B. Special Edition.

  19. MATT B….don’t listen to that Occupy Wall Street fool. All this over a greeting…”hello, Cow Girls.”…and now he asks if…You are normal!

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