The Yankees are playing Seattle this weekend, and like every other time they do, I think of Robinson Cano and how criminally underrated and underappreciated he is by Yankee fans. Cano is a guy who started his career as a Yankee, is one of the ten best Yankee position players ever, is better than a good percentage of players who have plaques in Monument Park, and never had any public issues with media, teammates, or associations with PED’s.
And yet, he’s generally greeted somewhere between luke-warm appreciation and disregard by Yankee fans.
I’m not sure why this is. My only guess is that fans dislike when players don’t run full speed down the first base line. A crime of which, Cano was guilty, along with 90% of other major league players.
I learned a long time ago not to judge players by my eyes or emotions. I certainly root for some players more based on personal biases – Mattingly, Jeter, Judge come to mind – but I’m not going to let that interfere with my appreciation of performance, and ultimately, a player’s ability to help his team win games.
So, here’s what I’m going to tell you about Robinson Cano:
- He is the 2nd best Major League 2nd basemen since WWII.
Among 2nd basemen since WWII with a minimum of 8,000 plate appearances and who played 90% of their games at 2nd base, Cano ranks 1st in slugging percentage, 2nd in weighted runs created and OPS+, 5th in on base percentage and 7th in defensive wins above replacement. He’s currently 6th in total wins above replacement, but will be 2nd by the time he retires.
2. He is the best Yankee 2nd baseman of all time.
Willie Randolph has a slight edge over Cano in WAR. Cano has a massive edge in…everything else.
3. During his tenure with the Yankees, he was their 2nd best player.
From ’05 to ’13, Cano ranked first in WAR, 2nd in OPS+, dWAR, and SLG and 7th in OBP among Yankees.
4. During his career which spans from 2005 through today, he’s been the best 2nd baseman in the sport.
Among Major League 2nd basemen from ’05 to ’17, Cano is first in WAR, first in SLG% and first in OPS+, while ranking 6th in dWAR.
And as far as the aforementioned, not so subtle hints at his laziness, here’s a number for you:
Cano played in 159 games or more in seven consecutive seasons for the Yankees. Do you know who else did that?
Yes, Gehrig played in 154 game seasons but even when the criteria is expanded to 154 games, Gehrig is the only player to be on the field a higher percentage of the time for the Yankees over a seven year stretch than Robinson Cano.
Need more to dispel the shiftless label?
Since entering the league, Ichiro is the only player in the Major Leagues with more games played than Cano. Cano played only a partial season in ’05 after being called up in May to replace Tony Womcak…LOL…otherwise, he’d be ahead of Ichiro in the top spot. Cano even played in 156 games in a season where he was nursing a double hernia.
But right, running to first base…or not…
Robinson Cano is an easy first ballot hall of famer and one of the best Yankees ever. I’m just not sure why most people don’t see it. Maybe we need to keep reminding ourselves Steinbrenner money was better spent on Jacoby Ellsbury.
Thanks as always to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs.
PS: Joe Morgan is the best 2nd baseman since WW II. A-Rod was the best Yankee from ’05 to ’13. Think it through before you come at me with Jeter or Rivera.