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Cano deserves recognition as Yankees MVP

11/15/2012 11:25 AM ET
By Jon Lane

A top-five finalist for AL MVP, Robinson Cano did more than enough to merit Yankees MVP honors.(AP)
New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is one of five finalists for the AL MVP award to be announced Thursday night. Detroit Tigers first baseman/Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Los Angeles Angels outfielder/AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout are considered the frontrunners in voting expected to be close. As far as Yankees MVP, while one can make a case for Derek Jeter, Hiroki Kuroda or Rafael Soriano, Cano best fits the definition of “Most Valuable Player.”

Basic stats and sabermetric categories including Wins Above Replacement (WAR) are part of many criteria used to determine one’s choice for an MVP. A variable that deserves more consideration is exactly where a team would be without the significant contributions from a candidate. Cano batted .313 with 33 home runs and 94 runs batted in during the 2012 season. He belted seven homers in May, a career-high 11 in June and compiled a 23-game hitting streak. And to help the Yankees hold off the fast-charging Baltimore Orioles, Cano finished the season with a flourish. In his final 10 games, he went a whopping 24-for-39 (.615) with three homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs.

The Yankees went 7-3 in those 10 games to win the AL East by two games, preventing a collapse from 10 games up in July. Cano didn’t just put up numbers. Those scary numbers translated into victories. He was second behind Trout in AL WAR rankings (8.2) and ahead of Cabrera. Put all that together and his value to the Yankees was priceless.

If there was a team Cy Young Award winner, it’d be Rafael Soriano. Remember that he took over for an injured Mariano Rivera in early May, a time when the worst fears of life without Rivera were a threat. Instead, Soriano took over the closer’s role and earned all 42 of his saves in five months to go with a sparkling 2.26 ERA. Rivera may have been lost for the season, but the Yankees bullpen remained stable with Soriano leading the way.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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