Friday, April 30, 2010

Respect for Robbie

Quick question, and don't cheat (or look at the post title or picture on the right): who is 1st in the American League this season in batting average, slugging percentage, runs and OPS, and 2nd in the AL in home runs?

I'll give you a clue. He plays in the AL East. Okay, I'll give you another clue. He plays for the Yankees.

No, it's not A-Rod. Definitely not Mark Teixiera. Not Derek Jeter, either. The answer is Robinson Cano. Admit it...Cano wouldn't have been among your top 15 guesses. A second baseman who is considered no better than the 4th or 5th best position player on his team? Please. Well, it's time to give the guy some respect.

Let's just talk facts here:

Robinson Cano is hitting .407 this season. Assuming he doesn't dip below the .400 mark in tonight's game, he will be the first Yankee ever to finish April averaging 4 hits in every 10 at bats. First Yankee ever. Step aside Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, Maris, DiMaggio. Robbie's here.

If that were not impressive enough, the dude has 8 home runs to boot. Nobody has hit .400 with 8 home runs in April since Barry Bonds did it in 2004, and he had a syringe permanently attached to his left buttock. If Cano's juicing, he's doing a great job hiding it.

OK fine, anyone can have a great April. I mean, Kelly Johnson is hitting the cover off the ball and nobody's even heard of him. That's all true, but what people don't realize about Cano is that he's not just an April success story; he's been pretty damn good before.

Last year, he hit .320 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI. According to, .320 was good for 1st in the major leagues among 2nd basemen and the 25 home runs were 6th. Cano's 85 RBI was 8th in baseball and that was done when he was batting 7th in the lineup. This year, he's batting 5th, which means he'll get more RBI chances with A-Rod and Teixeira on base in front of him.

Still not convinced? How about when he came in 2nd for the AL batting title in 2006, hitting .342, and finishing one point behind Joe Mauer's .343? He had one "off" year in 2008 when he hit .271 with 14 HR and 72 RBI and critics just can't get that out of their minds. Don't be close-minded, folks...this guy's the real deal.

I saw a Mets fan on Twitter this morning suggest that he would prefer Cano in orange and blue over their star 3rd baseman, David Wright. Making a statement like that a few years ago would be cause for a mental health evaluation, but is it really so crazy now? Robbie will certainly come down to Earth soon--you just can't keep this kind of production up for a full season--but with every passing day, he's showing he belongs in any discussion of the elite players in baseball. And the scary thing is that at 27 years old, the best of Cano may still be yet to come.

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