Robinson Cano’s volcano-hot April has attracted the attention of the baseball universe. He’s been recognized as one of the best 2nd basemen in the AL for sometime, but now he’s making a case for being included among the game’s elite players.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Robbie’s 2009 offensive line of .320/.352/.520 translated into a VORP of 50.3, which was 3rd-best among all 2nd basemen in either league. Only Chase Utley and Ben Zobrist ranked higher than Cano.
Prior to Monday night’s game, Robbie was hitting .387/.433/.763, which translates into a VORP of 20.3. That’s the best in baseball at any position. It’s unlikely that Cano will keep up his current pace (OK, it’s all but assured) but how much of a dropoff should we anticipate?
Last season Robbie shot out of the gate as well. But he couldn’t keep up the pace. In May and June he played to the league average, and his overall numbers deflated somewhat. Then, he turned it on again after the All-Star break, a time during which he’s been a beast throughout his entire career.
If Robinson’s post-All-Star surge can be taken as a given then the coming two months will determine what kind of 2010 he has, and just how good a player he has become. He can slow down considerably. So long as he remains a powerhouse in the late summer months, he will still emerge this year as one of the best in baseball.
In January 2008 the Yankees broke their own rules and signed Cano, then a cost-controlled player, to a 4-year extension. Normally the team deals with young players on a year-by-year basis. Unheralded at the time, the $30 million contract may have been one of Brian Cashman’s best decisions in recent years. Last season alone Cano was worth $21 million. He’s been worth $6.2 million this year, and it’s not even Memorial Day.
Robbie is a free agent after 2012, assuming the Yankees exercise their option year on him, which the team almost certainly will. 2012 will be his age 29 season. Last year BP rated him as the 25th-best player in all of baseball. He ranked ahead of Carl Crawford, who is due to receive $60-$70 million beginning next year, his age 29 season. He also ranked ahead of Ryan Howard.
Could Robinson Cano be working his way toward a $100 million payday? He’s certainly on the right team. Recent talk has focused on Mark Teixeira as the best player on the Yankees three to four years from now. Is the media looking at the wrong infielder?
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