The New York-Boston rivalry goes beyond wins and losses, extending down to the individual players. In the 90’s it was Jeter vs. Nomar, a few years ago it was Posada vs. Varitek, and nowadays you’ve got Cano vs. Pedroia in a second base matchup. Both are obviously tremendous young players, but they go about their business in different ways. Jack Curry spoke to injured Mets infielder (kinda redundant, no?) Alex Cora about which player he’d prefer, to which he essentially said Pedroia because “people are going to say [Pedroia] is going to show up every day and [Cano] might not.”
That mentality comes through again in this conveniently timed follow-up by Joel Sherman. Sherman polled seven executives about which second sacker they’d take, and all seven said Pedroia because he “has better makeup and gives his all every day.” He also noted that several execs “kept telling me Cano was erratic on D,” which Sherman (and I) disagree with. There’s certainly merit to guys who play hard all the time, but there’s no denying that Cano has more more talent and raw ability, and both articles reflect that.
Let’s not pretend that there aren’t some stereotypes involved here. The Dominican Cano is often be called lazy, or boneheaded, or something along those lines when he has the audacity to fail at something in a game of failure. Pedroia, short and white, fits the mold of a “grinder” and someone that “plays the game the right way,” something you absolutely never hear about non-caucasian players. But just look at last night’s game, when Pedroia was thrown out at third by ten feet trying to stretch a double into a triple. What would have been said about Cano if the roles were reversed? And then of course, there’s this.
Look, Robbie Cano is a great young player who’s guilty of the occasional brianfart. After an MVP season last year, Pedroia now lags behind Cano in AVG (.296 to .311), SLG (.440 to .499), OPS (.811 to .842), XBH (47 to 54), and VORP (27.5 to 29.4). Pedroia’s great, but the reputation far exceeds the reality right now. When it comes to Robbie, I think this great quote from Bossman Junior fits him perfectly (Upton was talking about himself at the time, but it still applies):
“Just because of the way I carry myself, some people say I’m lazy. I’ve heard that my whole life. Or I don’t work hard, or I don’t play hard sometimes. I can’t help that I make some things look easier than they really are.”