June 26, 2012

Robinson Cano is in a league of his own

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said last night that Robinson Cano is the best player in baseball... Or that he spoke to an American League scout who spoke to his kid's pet tortoise and that's what it said. Or something like that. Either way, that is wrong.

That argument is between Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto. They have to be considered the first half MVP's in their respective leagues.

But when it comes to second basemen, Cano is second to none. He's in a league of his own, actually.

No major league second baseman comes close to matching his combination of hitting for average and power. See for yourself.
(Click to enlarge)

If you prefer advanced metrics like WAR, which isn't always perfect, Cano is still on another level with a 3.7 WAR. The next highest are Aaron Hill's 2.5 and Dan Uggla's 2.4.

A couple players like Uggla Brandon Phillips and have driven in more runs than Cano; this is a result of Cano's .164 average with runners in scoring position. That certainly will improve with a bigger sample size, as his .196 BABIP w/RISP indicates.

After a rough April, hitting .264 with one homer, Cano rebounded to hit .312 with seven homers in May and .329 with nine homers in June (with five games remaining). Even with his horrendous production with RISP thus far, Cano is on pace for a .302, 38 HR, 88 RBI season.

He also has played in every game this season, starting all but one, providing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Go figure, he was just voted ahead of Texas' Ian Kinsler for starting second baseman duties in the All-Star Game next month. The voters aren't as dumb as I thought they were.

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