Girardi: Cano is my AL MVP

Joe Girardi said the fifth spot in the Yankees’ lineup was a “big question mark” heading into 2010.

Now, Girardi believes it’s home to the American League MVP.

The Yankees manager said before Game 3 of the ALDS on Saturday that Robinson Cano is his choice for AL MVP.

“He’s had an outstanding year and I believe he’s the MVP of our league,” Girardi said. “…. You combine his offense and, I believe, Gold Glove defense and how he impacts the game defensively. I think he’s had the best all-around year.”

Cano hit .319 this season, primarily from the fifth spot in the Yankees lineup, and established career-highs with 29 HR, 109 RBI and 57 walks in 2010. He led all American League second baseman with a fielding percentage of .996, committing just three errors in 776 chances.

Cano will be up against Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton and Detroit outfielder Miguel Cabrera.

Hamilton hit a major-league leading .359 with 32 homers and drove in 100 runs. But he missed most of September a rib injury.

Cabrera hit .328 with 38 homers and a major-league leading 126 RBI.

Cano replaced Matsui in the fifth spot in the Yankees’ lineup this season. Matsui, of course, won the 2009 World Series MVP award with six RBI in Game 6. The Yankees would like to see Cano mimic Matsui’s postseason production.

Heading into the 2010 postseason, Cano had hit just .217 in 106 playoff at-bats. He’s 2-for-8 with an RBI and a run scored through the first two games of the ALDS against Minnesota.