The Archive

Friday, November 9, 2012

Is Robinson Cano already the best Yankee second baseman of all time? Part 2

In the middle of the 2011 season, I posted to the blog a post entitled "Is Robinson Cano already the best Yankee second baseman of all time?"

I want to revisit this question, since Cano had a career best 149 OPS+ in 2012. He continues to add to his resume.

Our candidates, again, are:

  • Robinson Cano
  • Joe Gordon
  • Tony Lazzeri
  • Willie Randolph
  • Snuffy Stirnweiss
Since the post in 2011, Baseball Reference has changed how they calculate wins above replacement.

             PA    WAR     o/dWAR        BA/OBP/SLG   OPS+

Randolph   7465   51.7   41.9/16.3   .275/.374/.357   105

Lazzeri    7058   44.7   45.1/5.3    .293/.379/.467   120

Gordon     4216   35.1   26.1/10.2   .271/.358/.467   120

Cano       5110   34.8   33.0/5.0    .308/.351/.503   123

Stirnweiss 3800   25.7   18.0/11.4   .274/.366/.382   108

Last time, Cano was slightly behind Lazzeri and Gordon in OPS+. He is now slightly ahead.

His wins above replacement have gone up and he should pass Gordon in early 2013.

Another 1,010 plate appearances were not, however, enough to send Cano past the competition in statistics besides OPS+ (and batting average and slugging average).

At his new pace, by the time Cano has accumulated 7,465 plate appearances to match Randolph, his WAR would be 50.8, about one win behind Randolph. At that point you could probably still argue for Cano based on the closeness and accuracy of the WAR, as well as Cano's superior hitting statistics.

Cano is also likely to end up with far more plate appearances as a Yankee than Randolph. This would help his case.

Cano's career OPS has gone up every year since 2009, and he just turned thirty. Will his hitting continue to improve and for how long?

Odds look very good that Robinson Cano will eventually have produced the best career at the position in Yankee history.

Last year I wrote that "The Yankees have never had a Joe Morgan or Jackie Robinson caliber second baseman." By the time Cano's career is over, they could.

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