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Monday, November 22, 2010
Cano, don't cha know, should be AL MVP

By Wallace Matthews



Tuesday is the day for the Yankees to find out if they are going to be shut out of the postseason awards and for Robbie Cano to learn if he will join the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Phil Rizzuto, Elston Howard and, of course, Alex Rodriguez on the list of Yankees to win the AL Most Valuable Player award.

Over the years, this award seems to have morphed into a Best Offensive Player Award, which means Cano probably doesn't have a shot up against the likes of Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera.

Cano's .319-29-109, plus .381 OBP and .914 OPS is a terrific season by anyone's standards and on a team boasting the likes of A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, Cano was clearly the best hitter on the team. But Hamilton led the league in hitting (.359) and blasted 32 HRs, and Cabrera had 38 HRs, led the league in RBI (126) and OBP (.420). So if it's strictly a numbers game, Cano comes up no better than third.

But to me, "Valuable'' is the operative word in this award, and too often overlooked or ignored. Cabrera's Detroit Tigers did not make the playoffs, something they could have accomplished just as easily without him. And Hamilton missed 25 games in September, a stretch over which his team played some of its best ball of the season --the Rangers went 15-10 in those games -- and increased their lead in the divison by a half-game, all without Hamilton. His is a feel-good story but for sheer value, that final month seems to tell a significant tale.

Cano, on the other hand, seemed to be the one everyday player the Yankees simply could not do without. Admittedly, sometimes baseball writers become biased toward players they cover, because they see them every day. And in a way, Cano's durability -- he played 160 games this season -- may work against him, because we never really got a chance to see what the Yankees looked like without him. But for me, Cano's durability, reliability, and dangerousness at the plate all year, plus his slickness at second base, elevate him in the ratings.

I don't have a vote on this one but I do have an opinion, and if anyone asks me, I'd vote for Cano.