Robbie Cano’s case for MVP


(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The end of season awards are finicky little things. Major League Baseball sets forth criteria for them while leaving plenty of room for interpretation. This often leads, in the name of originality, to a few head-smacking votes. For instance, Jason Bartlett in 2008, a year during which he had just 494 PA and accumulated 1.7 WAR, received an MVP vote. In 1996 the BBWAA voted Juan Gonzalez, 2.8 WAR, the AL MVP*. In 2003 they gave Jim Edmonds, 7.3 WAR, just 1 percent of the vote while giving Juan Pierre, 1.6 WAR, 9 percent. This means, in essence, that the voters can interpret the term “value” in any number of ways. In many ways they mold it to fit their preformed opinions. This makes it difficult to predict who will win the award.

*To me, 1996 was the worst example of MVP voting in recent memory. You cannot making a convincing case for Juan Gone. You just can’t. A-Rod produced 9.4 WAR that year. He hit .358/.414/.631 in 60 more PA than Gonzalez, and while his HR and RBI numbers weren’t as large he did hit 36 and 123 of them. That’s also because he had this other guy in the lineup with him, a guy named Ken Griffey, who hit 49 homers and drove in 140. He also produced 9.7 WAR that season. Hell, even Albert Belle had a better season than Gonzalez. He hit 48 homers and drove in 148, both more than Gonzalez, and he had a better OBP (also 4.9 WAR). In fact, every single player who received an MVP vote that year had a higher WAR than Juan Gone. I can understand writers interpreting “value” differently, but in 1996 it was just out of control.

By the numbers, the AL MVP race comes down to two candidates: Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. Both are producing ridiculous numbers and stand above the pack in most major statistical categories. Barring injury or major slump they’ll probably end the season with the most impressive statistics. One of them will likely deserve the award of best AL player. But, since that pesky word value gets slipped in we’re going to see plenty of different interpretations. Cabrera could get a demerit for playing on a non-contender, for instance.

In his column today, Joel Sherman raises Robinson Cano’s interpretive MVP case. Cano clearly doesn’t have the best numbers, but we know that voters go on more than the numbers. Sherman’s case involves Cano filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez and carrying the team in his absence. As Sherman says, “At the moment his team needs him most, Cano not only has avoided wearing down, but is also cleaning up.” This is essentially the same case as Sabathia’s for Cy Young. Cano is not the best hitter in the league, but he is the best hitter on the best team in the league. That will certainly garner him at least a few first place votes.

At this point Hamilton has the best case for AL MVP. He leads the league in BA, is second in OBP, SLG, and wOBA (all to Cabrera), and has the highest WAR. That WAR, 7.0, leads the second place hitter by a full win. That second place hitter: Robinson Cano. Even considering Cano’s votes for being the best hitter on the league’s best team, Hamilton should still finish ahead at this point. He is, after all, the best hitter on the AL West leader. He also stands out more among teammates. While the Yankees have Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter among the top 35 in WAR, the Rangers have just Michael Young. Hamilton has been doing it all.

Plenty can change between now and October 4, and that’s precisely Sherman’s point. If Cano does continue producing in A-Rod’s absence, he’ll curry much more favor with the voters. Sherman brings up last year’s AL MVP award, where (he claims) Joe Mauer won it in the final weeks by carrying his team in Justin Morneau’s absence. But that ignores the overriding sentiment that Mauer had the award locked up by mid-August. The best example I can recall is in 2004, when there was no clear-cut MVP heading into September. Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz were all producing excellent numbers, and even lighter hitting guys like Ichiro and Miguel Tejada were making cases. But in September Vlad went on a tear, putting up a .482 wOBA and leading his team to the playoffs. That was the tipping point in the voting. (Even though Ichiro had the best WAR in the league.)

We could certainly see a similar case this year. A-Rod won’t be back for almost two weeks, so Cano has plenty of time to make his case. If he hits anything near what he has in the six games A-Rod has missed — 9 for 24 (.375) with four walks (.464 OBP) and five extra base hits (.917 SLG) — he could certainly gain status in voters’ eyes. If the Yankees stay in first place during that stretch, all the better. And then there’s the rest of September, during which the Yankees will likely fight closely with Tampa Bay for first place in the East. Cano’s continued production combined with Yankees’ success could go a long way.

At this point, with 124 games in the books, Robinson Cano is not the AL’s most valuable player. Josh Hamilton owns that distinction. That leaves 38 games for Cano to make his case. He has and advantage now, since his production is magnified because of his team’s situation. A strong, April-like run could vault him from also-ran to MVP favorite. Sherman is right. Yankees fans should start breaking out the M-V-P chant. He might not be leading now, but Cano certainly has an opportunity to bring home the hardware.

Categories : Offense


  1. tc says:

    I have a question, I know little about criterion for mvp voting: do defensive stats count for anything in the considerations? And if they do, did that factor into your judgment that Hamilton is the clear leader?

  2. don draper says:

    Bob Cano for MVP!

  3. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    2 years ago, when little Scrappy McGrit won the MVP a big push from the TV media came from what he did when he batted cleanup that year. I guess that only matters if you’re a midget little person

  4. Bret says:

    The most shocking thing about the entire article is that Jeter is in the top 35 in the AL in WAR. I don’t see how that is possible.

    • Total Dominication says:

      For me too,

    • You don’t see how it’s possible for a guy who’s hitting about league average and playing a non-atrocious shortstop is in the top 35 of players with more than 400 PA (or whatever the qualifying number is at this point)?

    • bexarama says:

      Positional adjustment. It’s a bad year for offense anyway. Do defensive metrics like him this year?

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Top five AL SS this year:

        1. Jeter, .327 wOBA
        2. Alexei Ramirez, .325
        3. Cliff Pennington, .324
        4. Marco Scutaro, .316
        5. Elvis Andrus, .312

        Last year’s top five:

        1. Jeter, .390
        2. Jason Bartlett, .389
        3. Scutaro, .354
        4. Asdrubal Cabrera, .354
        5. Erick Aybar, .339

        What the hell happened?

      • Bret says:

        That is like finding two guys on every team that are better than Jeter this year (not including the 4 on his own team). I have some issues with the way that is calculated, even on the O’s you would have to take Scott, Jones and Markakis this year, the Rays have at least 3 (Jaso, Crawford, Longoria), the Jays (Bautista, Wells, Buck, Alex Gonzalez before getting traded) etc. I haven’t done the math but I have a hard time believing I can’t find 3 guys having superior years to Jeter on nearly every AL team.

        • bexarama says:

          I want to say WAR runs off wOBA and wOBA weights OBP more highly than SLG, and Jeter has a higher OBP than Wells and Jones, who have a higher OPS and OPS+ than Jeter but that’s due to their higher SLG. I could be totally wrong here though.

        • Ed says:

          The problem is SS is traditionally a terrible position for offense. We caught an amazing period for SS’s with Jeter/A-Rod/Nomar/Tejada/Hanley/etc and started expecting that. Being good with the bat and playing a decent SS is an extremely rare combo of skills.

          • Bret says:

            I would buy that in most instances but Jeter is having a horrible offensive year in a hitter friendly park and his defense is average at best. I’m just saying that for 2010 there have to be 35 more valuable players than Jeter in the AL. It doesn’t make any logical sense for there not to be. I also saw a Joe Posnanski article saying they calculate WAR differently and one site (I think Baseball Reference) has Yuni Betancourt at a higher WAR than Jeter for 2010. I understand giving more weight to OBP but Wells is clearly having a superior year. Almost .100 OPS advantage, 13 more doubles and 13 more homers and the OBP differential is minor.

            • Ed says:

              Jeter’s not having a horrible offensive year. It isn’t up to his usual standards, it’s actually right about league average. I think a .330 wOBA is average, and he’s at .327. He’s got a 100 OPS+, which is exactly average.

              Average offense at a position where everyone else is rather valuable.

              As for your WAR question: The two common sources of WAR are Baseball Reference (bWAR) and Fangraphs (fWAR).

              Jeter – bWAR 1.3, fWAR 2.3

            • bexarama says:

              Except Vernon Wells actually DOES have more WAR than Derek Jeter by fWAR so I’m not quite sure why we’re having this debate? (I guess it’s partially my fault because I brought up Wells and Jones re: the OBP/SLG thing.)

        • TarheelYankee says:

          When did this turn into something about Jeter? This is about Cano!!!!!!!!!

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      Because WAR is as flawed a stat as any. Seriously, whenever it’s mentioned in this (or any other) blog, I instantly dismiss the stat. It’s a helpful gauge, but not the “defining” stat that too many people seem to deem it.

  5. I love advocating for Cano to get serious MVP consideration.

    That being said, the way Sherman is doing it is asinine. No, Robbie doesn’t deserve consideration because of how he’s “filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez and carrying the team in his absence or not “wearing down, but… cleaning up… at the moment his team needs him most.”

    By that logic, Adrian Beltre deserves the award for filling in for Youkilis and Pedroia and Ellsbury.

  6. rek4gehrig says:

    Oh yes please!!!!

  7. Ed says:

    For reference:

    Hamilton: fWAR – 7.0, bWAR – 5.2
    Cano: fWAR – 6.0, bWAR – 6.3
    Cabrera: fWAR – 5.6, bWAR – 5.9

    So Cano has a legit MVP case if you believe in bWAR over fWAR.

    Looking around at Juan Gonzalez a little, it looks like the low WAR is based on him playing a poor RF + DH. If you look at Fielding Percentage, which is probably the best the voters of the time would have done, he actually scored pretty well. I think this is a case that seemed reasonable at the time, but thanks to better statistics over a decade later, we see things differently.

    Oh, one big flaw in the post – it mixes bWAR and fWAR with saying which is which.

    • tc says:

      Sorry, but I’ve seen NOTHING to suggest that the voters are even USING anybody’s WAR stats in their consideration, or that it’s even a creditable stat, but I stated earlier I know little. More info on how they vote, please!

      • bexarama says:

        Well some voters are guys like Keith Law who I believe has said he looks at WAR/general saber stuff. Not that he goes down the list of top WARs and votes like that, and he shouldn’t. But some look at the more advanced stats. And some are Jon Heyman, so.

      • Zack says:

        Voters don’t vote one way:

        Some go by advance metrics
        Some go strictly by RBI/HR
        Some go by the player’s perceived value to the team
        Some go by their hometown guy who they cover every game and want to suck up to

    • Looking around at Juan Gonzalez a little, it looks like the low WAR is based on him playing a poor RF + DH. If you look at Fielding Percentage, which is probably the best the voters of the time would have done, he actually scored pretty well. I think this is a case that seemed reasonable at the time, but thanks to better statistics over a decade later, we see things differently.

      Throw fielding out altogether, though, and think of it this way. I’m going to give you some players statlines (offensive only) and I want you to pick who was the best player that year. I’ve sorted by OPS (and no, I’m not even including the positions they played).

      A.) 130 G, 548 PA, .312/.467/.730 (1.198) 52 HR, 113 RBI, 104 R
      B.) 141 G, 649 PA, .349/.459/.626 (1.085) 40 HR, 134 RBI, 110 R
      C.) 151 G, 636 PA, .311/.450/.612 (1.062) 38 HR, 116 RBI, 122 R
      D.) 146 G, 677 PA, .358/.414/.631 (1.045) 36 HR, 123 RBI, 141 R
      E.) 149 G, 687 PA, .297/.396/.637 (1.034) 50 HR, 110 RBI, 117 R
      F.) 158 G, 715 PA, .311/.410/.623 (1.033) 48 HR, 148 RBI, 124 R
      G.) 140 G, 638 PA, .303/.392/.628 (1.020) 49 HR, 140 RBI, 125 R
      H.) 134 G, 592 PA, .314/.368/.643 (1.011) 47 HR, 144 RBI, 89 R
      I.) 161 G, 752 PA, .326/.420/.583 (1.003) 44 HR, 143 RBI, 118 R
      J.) 153 G, 701 PA, .341/.448/.517 (.965) 13 HR, 72 RBI, 140 R (45 steals)
      K.) 153 G, 699 PA, .328/.411/.527 (.938) 22 HR, 94 RBI, 132 R
      L.) 162 G, 732 PA, .289/.381/.546 (.927) 39 HR, 142 RBI, 110 R
      M.) 150 G, 667 PA, .271/.369/.557 (.926) 44 HR, 138 RBI, 107 R
      N.) 143 G, 641 PA, .305/.391/.535 (.926) 29 HR, 102 RBI, 108 R
      O.) 145 G, 731 PA, .272/.342/.529 (.871) 35 HR, 100 RBI, 79 R
      P.) 161 G, 729 PA, .341/.390/.468 (.858) 9 HR, 113 RBI, 99 R
      Q.) 154 G, 736 PA, .317/.372/.446 (.817) 14 HR, 67 RBI, 132 R (75 steals)
      R.) 153 G, 685 PA, .300/.342/.473 (.814) 19 HR, 86 RBI, 116 R

      All you get is how much they played and what they hit. Who do you pick?

      • bexarama says:

        Is this 1996? Because some of these stat lines are crazy. It seems more like 2000.

        Anyway, probably A. But if, say, I was a shortstop and the guys above him were all 1B/LF/RF, I would probably vote for him.

        (I don’t know if I is a shortstop or anything like that)

      • JGS says:

        Yeesh, that’s a lot of players finishing with a 1.000+ OPS, and that’s just the AL (and that’s just those in the AL who got MVP votes. There was a tenth–Edgar Martinez and his .327/.464/.595/1.059, 26 HR, 103 RBI, 121–who didn’t get any votes at all). This year, there are just two in each league.

      • j_Yankees says:

        look at those steroid era numbers. gotta love it.

      • Here’s the full list:

        DH Mark McGwire – 130 G, 548 PA, .312/.467/.730 (1.198) 52 HR, 113 RBI, 104 R
        1B Frank Thomas – 141 G, 649 PA, .349/.459/.626 (1.085) 40 HR, 134 RBI, 110 R
        1B Jim Thome – 151 G, 636 PA, .311/.450/.612 (1.062) 38 HR, 116 RBI, 122 R
        SS Alex Rodriguez – 146 G, 677 PA, .358/.414/.631 (1.045) 36 HR, 123 RBI, 141 R
        CF Brady Anderson – 149 G, 687 PA, .297/.396/.637 (1.034) 50 HR, 110 RBI, 117 R
        RF Albert Belle – 158 G, 715 PA, .311/.410/.623 (1.033) 48 HR, 148 RBI, 124 R
        CF Ken Griffey Jr. – 140 G, 638 PA, .303/.392/.628 (1.020) 49 HR, 140 RBI, 125 R
        RF Juan Gonzalez – 134 G, 592 PA, .314/.368/.643 (1.011) 47 HR, 144 RBI, 89 R
        1B Mo Vaughn – 161 G, 752 PA, .326/.420/.583 (1.003) 44 HR, 143 RBI, 118 R
        2B Chuck Knoblauch – 153 G, 701 PA, .341/.448/.517 (.965) 13 HR, 72 RBI, 140 R (45 steals)
        2B Roberto Alomar – 153 G, 699 PA, .328/.411/.527 (.938) 22 HR, 94 RBI, 132 R
        1B/DH Rafael Palmeiro – 162 G, 732 PA, .289/.381/.546 (.927) 39 HR, 142 RBI, 110 R
        RF Jay Buhner – 150 G, 667 PA, .271/.369/.557 (.926) 44 HR, 138 RBI, 107 R
        CF Bernie Williams – 143 G, 641 PA, .305/.391/.535 (.926) 29 HR, 102 RBI, 108 R
        C Terry Steinbach – 145 G, 731 PA, .272/.342/.529 (.871) 35 HR, 100 RBI, 79 R
        DH Paul Molitor – 161 G, 729 PA, .341/.390/.468 (.858) 9 HR, 113 RBI, 99 R
        CF Kenny Lofton – 154 G, 736 PA, .317/.372/.446 (.817) 14 HR, 67 RBI, 132 R (75 steals)
        C Pudge Rodriguez – 153 G, 685 PA, .300/.342/.473 (.814) 19 HR, 86 RBI, 116 R

        Juan Gonzalez was not a wise choice for the 1996 MVP, no matter how you slice it. He made outs more than 60% of the time, and numerous other candidates made outs less that 60% of the time (and several played more demanding positions as well).

      • Carlosologist says:

        I pick D because he was the first SS to lead the offensive explosion at the position. (Alex Rodriguez)

      • Ed says:

        I see what you’re getting at. I don’t disagree with you. Let me try again to restate what I was getting at.

        No, I don’t think Juan Gonzalez should have won the MVP. Joe’s post seemed to claim he was a horrendous choice for the award. He justified that with WAR. WAR was invented in the past few years. Both versions of it use defensive stats invented in the past decade. I think it’s unreasonable to call a decision made in the 1990s horrendous based on statistics invented in the 2000s.

        If you use WAR, yeah, Juan Gonzalez looks like someone who shouldn’t have been anywhere near an MVP ballet. If you use the stats of the time, he’s at least worthy of some discussion. Maybe somewhere more like 5th place in the voting is more reasonable?

  8. larryf says:

    Hamilton- MVP

    Robbie-World Series MVP


  9. tc says:

    Robbie won’t have the chance if the pitching doesn’t get better. Earth to AJ: please remember how to pitch. Soon.

  10. TERPSandYANKSfan says:

    I think you used two different sites for WAR. Gonzalez’s 2.8 WAR is from BR (I think) and Josh Hamilton’s 7.0 WAR is from Fangraphs. According to BR, Cano leads baseball in WAR this year.

  11. eddieperez23 says:

    As you mentioned above, defensive stats should count and Cano is superior to Hamilton and plays a more important defensive position. In addition do you think Hamilton’s home/away splits will hurt him/help Robbie’s candidacy? While not a Ballpark in Arlington creation, its clear Josh’s numbers are helped immensely by playing there.

    Home: .396 AVG/.444 OBP/.752 SLG
    Away: .321 AVG/.375 OBP/.513 SLG

    (note: Robbie is fairly even home/away).

  12. Johnny O says:

    This is all moot. If A-Rod were a good teammate/True Yankee, he would have missed all 162 games so the Yankees could go 162-0, Cano would hit 89 HR’s with 229 RBI, and Joe Girardi would be wearing jersey 29 next year.

    Thus reinforcing the FACT that A-Rod is the most worst and most selfish person/baseball player/teammate/celebrity/fake Dominican/fake New Yorker ever.

    Can’t believe Kruk hasn’t brought this up on BBTN.

    • poster on another computer who happens to be a deuce bag says:

      …and Joe Girardi would be wearing jersey 29 30 next year.


      Yes, friends, that’s right. A-Rod is so selfish that he can defy the laws of logic and get us TWO championships this year, but he chooses not too so he can watch Hideki Matsui’s collection of Japanese porn.

      Selfish bastard.

  13. Riddering says:

    When it comes to “intangibles” I’d vault Cano over both Cabrera and Hamilton because of their positions. Miggy looks like a first baseman out there and the Rangers have played Hambone in LF for the majority of his games (70%) to ease his fielding burden. Whereas Cano has played second base in every game he’s started as a position player (122).

    I know that doesn’t change the fact that Hamilton is the best hitter in the A.L. but that’s for other awards to decide. It’s not just best hitter but MVP.

    As far as WAR is concerned, you could make the argument that it’s more difficult for a player like Cano to take such a big piece of his team’s WAR pie because he plays alongside so many valuable players. Whereas Hamilton hogs it all–the bastard. /simplifying stats

    Regardless of how September goes, I want MVP chants in Yankee Stadium for Cano. Jeter got them last year and I loved it (even though Mauer was always the league MVP to me) because he was the Yankees’ MVP.

  14. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Blah blah blah 1998 blah blah blah blahbitty blah team first. Blah blah blah no awards blah blah blah blahbitty blah. Torre knew what buttons blah blah blah blah blahish.

    Good Old Days.

  15. j_Yankees says:

    something i find interesting is bWAR vs fWAR as it pertains to MVP winners.

    Dustin Pedroia’s fWAR has him 2nd in the AL behind only Grady Sizemore in 2008. bWAR has 7 guys on the ballot alone that had a higher WAR then the elf did in his MVP winning year.

    And it seems both bWAR and fWAR agree on Justin Morneau being a sucky pick for MVP in 2006.

    Both agree on A-rod in 2007. More or less the same with Mauer last year, although fWAR had Zobrist in front of Mauer while bWAR had it flipped.

    and then this year there seems to be some debate between the 2. Josh Hamilton is a clear leader in WAR via fWAR but is holding down 5th on bWAR.

  16. I wrote about this topic on my own blog. Cano is having an excellent year and if he had this type of season a year or two might be a viable option to win it. He might also be the best player at his position at this point. With that being said, it would be a bit rediculous if Hamilton or Cabrera didn’t win it. They are putting up rediculous stats.

    On a side note (regarding one of the comments above), it’s lame if the voters aren’t taking into consideration defensive play. That’s part of the game.

  17. Esteban says:

    I don’t think Robbie gets enough credit for how hard he was worked since coming to the majors. He is much better offensively and defensively. What could it be about him that columnists don’t write more about his hard work? What could it be?

  18. Opus says:

    Barring some unforseen incident, Josh Hamilton will win this award.


  19. TheTallOne0602 says:

    Actually, Hamilton’s WAR is debatable. According to Baseball-Reference he as barely hanging around the top five, and Cano leads the way. This is mostly due to BR using TZ instead of UZR, I believe, but still, it is at least food for argument.

  20. Fun Fact: Only three pitchers received votes in that 1996 AL MVP balloting.

    They were all New York Yankees. Mo (despite still being only a setup man) came in 12th (27 votes), Andy came in 14th (11 votes), and John Wetteland came in 19th (4 votes).

    Pat Hentgen beat out Andy for the Cy Young but didn’t get a single MVP vote.

    • bexarama says:

      By bWAR Andy was the most valuable player on the 1996 New York Yankees. Hooray.

      (Another fun fact: Mo was #2. Relief pitchers aren’t that important… unless they pitch 100+ crazy excellent innings for a rotation that was pretty frequently in shambles.)

  21. larryf says:

    Who cares about the rest of the league? Robbie is our MVP.

    Now for MVC-Most Valuable Contract. I vote for Grit Brettsky…

  22. Ross in Jersey says:

    No, Yankee fans should not be chanting anything. We know who the MVP is, and it’s not Robbie. Would it be nice if he won it? Sure. Does he deserve it? No. Barring a major collapse by Hamilton and Miggy, or an offensive explosion by Cano, every stat will say Cano isn’t the MVP.

    This is the way I look at it. If Robbie and CC were on the Red Sox, we’d all be bashing the notion that they deserve the MVP/Cy Young because there are other guys who are statistically much better.

    As much as I want to see one of the Yankees win one, Cano should not win MVP.

    • Guest says:

      All kinds of this. Robbie has been sick this year. Hailton and Miggy have been considerably sicker.


    • This is the way I look at it. If Robbie and CC were on the Red Sox, we’d all be bashing the notion that they deserve the MVP/Cy Young because there are other guys who are statistically much better.


      • Riddering says:

        Bashing the notion that the player *deserves* the award? Sure. But bashing a case for that player to be in the MVP race? No. That would be simple-minded and biased.

    • Esteban says:

      I don’t think Hamilton is ‘statistically’ much better, evidenced by bWAR. Hamilton should probably win (if the season ended today) but a solid case could be made for Robbie to win.

    • Riddering says:

      Yeah, you’re right. Yankee fans should keep their mouths shut because–ZOMG–Cano isn’t having a 15.9 WAR season to everyone else’s 4-5 WAR. Yankee fans shouldn’t celebrate that he has been the best hitter and an awesome fielder to watch this season. Yankee fans shouldn’t honor Cano for the fact that without him this team might be neck-and-neck with Boston for second place rather than vying for the best record in the league with the Rays.

      Cano might not be the clear-cut MVP this season but a player at his position having his kind of season does warrant MVP consideration. Anyone who would dismiss him were he on another team would be denying the phenomenal production he has given this season.

      • Ross in Jersey says:

        That’s great, I don’t care if a guy is “in the race” for an individual award. If he was the clear-cut front runner for MVP, fine. But he isn’t.

        Your narrative about him being the “best hitter and an awesome fielder” to watch this season is irrelevant. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Texas who feel the same way about Hamilton.

        No one is denying Cano’s phenomenal production. He’s anchoring the middle of the best lineup in baseball, and doing it well. But he simply hasn’t been as good as Hamilton (who plays a premium position as well, by the way) and Cabrera (who despite being a 1B has an OPS 130+ points higher than Cano)

        • Chris says:

          Hamilton’s home wOBA: .512
          Hamilton’s road wOBA: .381

          Robbie’s home wOBA: .409
          Robbie’s road wOBA: .396

          Robbie’s fWAR: 6.0
          Cabrera’s fWAR: 5.6

          I think you can make a reasonable case for Robbie as the MVP over either Hamilton or Cabrera.

          • Ross in Jersey says:

            I’m not quite sure how that’s supposed to make the case. If we’re saying Hamilton shouldn’t get as much credit because he hits so much better at home, shouldn’t we then hold it against Cano for not doing better as a lefty hitter at Yankee Stadium?

            And you kinda cherry picked your WAR reference, since as Joe pointed out he’s beating Robbie by a full win in bWAR. Unless you can make a case why I should trust one WAR stat over the other (you can’t) that’s not a convincing argument.

            • Chris says:

              Unless you can make a case why I should trust one WAR stat over the other (you can’t)

              You’re wrong.

              This isn’t a question of which WAR to choose. Hamilton is beating Robbie in WAR because he plays so much better at home, in a ridiculous hitters park. Why should he get extra credit just because of the park that he plays in?

              And Robbie beats Miguel Cabrera in WAR (both fWAR and bWAR) because he plays better defense at a more important defensive position. That more than makes up for the difference in offense.

              • Ross in Jersey says:

                You just posted below how YSIII is the best HR hitting ballpark in the majors. Using your own argument, why should Cano and Hamilton get extra credit when Cabrera plays in Comerica?

        • Evan3457 says:

          Hamilton hasn’t played a premium position for most of the year: 5 games missed, 9 at DH, 27 started in CF, 79 in LF. Now that Borbon’s back in center, Hamilton’s back in left. To be fair, he does show as a plus CF by both DRS (+/-) and UZR.

        • Riddering says:

          That wasn’t my argument for Cano to be MVP. That was my argument against your peevish statement that fans shouldn’t be giving Cano an MVP chant. Yankee fans should. Just like Ranger fans should give it to Hamilton. I know breaking down value for the actual award is more complex than that.

    • pete says:

      I disagree with this completely. Fans are there to cheer on their team and to show their appreciation for their players. Chanting “MVP” doesn’t hurt anything because fans’ MVP votes don’t count, but it’s certainly a nice gesture towards Cano.

      And I don’t think anyone here thinks that CC deserves the Cy, although he is having an awesome season.

  23. E6 says:

    Umm… in 1996 NOBODY knew what WAR was. I understand you’re trying to be holier than thou – but I’d be SHOCKED if you knew what WAR was in 1996.

    • But we knew what the underlying concepts behind WAR was, though, and we already believed in them.

      Concepts such as OBP is important, probably more important than slugging or batting average, or that a .300/.400/.500 line from a shortstop is way more impressive than the same .300/.400/.500 line from a first baseman or a corner outfielder, or that RBIs and Runs Scored are team-dependent stats that tell you a lot more about the quality of a man’s teammates than the quality of the man himself, etc.

      No, we didn’t know what WAR was, but we knew how to encapsulate the stat with lengthy explanations and arguments that arrived at the same conclusion.

      • Chris says:

        Plus, Juan Gonzalez didn’t lead the league in any of the “traditional” stats either. Albert Belle lead the league in RBI (also had more HR than Gonzalez), McGwire led the league in HR, and A-Rod lead the league in BA.

      • Ed says:

        You’re right in the general sense.

        Things WAR does give us tho:

        It helps us quantify how much more valuable .280 / .380 / .480 from a shortstop is than .300 / .400 / .500 from a 1B.

        The different WARs use new fielding metrics that frequently tell a very different story than Fielding Percentage.

        For comparison – FPCT puts A-Rod below average in ’96 but Juan Gonzalez around average. TZ and UZR put A-Rod above average and Juan Gonzalez below. That shifts the difference in value between the two a lot.

    • j_Yankees says:

      well we (US-fucking-A) were just a few years removed from the Gulf WAR. So i think SOMEBODY knew what WAR was in 1996.

  24. Chris says:

    The biggest argument in favor of Robbie over Hamilton is the home/road splits:

    Hamilton’s home wOBA: .512
    Hamilton’s road wOBA: .381

    Robbie’s home wOBA: .409
    Robbie’s road wOBA: .396

    On a side note, the player ranked 11th in the AL in WAR? Brett Gardner

  25. E6 says:

    Sorry that’s where you’re wrong. 1996 was still before the sabermetric revolution. Technically the dark ages. BA > OBP. wOBA, WAR, VORP, UZR – these were not terms even the hard core baseball fans knew.

    Heck in 1996 – most people were clueless about OPS. It’s easy now to play revisionist historian, but those stats weren’t considered back then. Pat Hentgen won the Cy Young that year. He deserved it over Pettitte but not Rivera.

    Most writers were seduced by Juan Gonzalez that year bc he drove in 100 runs before the All-Star break. I agree though A-Rod should have won it – those numbers from a SS? Sick. But once again Gonzalez played for a playoff team. Writers always weigh what team a player suited up for (with rare exception i.e. Ripken, Dawson).

    • You should read The Numbers Game by Alan Schwarz. Baseball analysts were definitely using advanced metrics by 1996. They weren’t readily available online because the Internet wasn’t as it is today, but the analysis was there if you knew where to look.

      Also, please use the reply button to reply to other comments. It keeps the thread organized, and those of us jumping into the middle of the conversation will understand the flow of it.

      • E6 says:

        I have read Schwarz’s book. Thank you. Baseball ANALYSTS were using advanced metrics. Writers weren’t. That’s my point.

        I forgot this is RAB. You guys are uber-sensitivie to the least bit of criticism.

        • Sigh. Of course. Whenever we rebut criticism, we’re sensitive. Sorry, forgot how that works.

        • bexarama says:

          I don’t write for RAB but between the “Ummm…” and the “holier-than-thou” accusation, your first post wasn’t really the most welcoming post in the history of the world.

        • Disagreement doesn’t equal criticism. You had one view; I had another. That’s a debate.

        • Okay, no advanced stats at all, just batting average, homers, RBI, runs, hits, games played, fielding percentage, and outfield assists (another classic old-school boner-activator).

          -Juan Gonzalez was 15th in batting average in 1996. FIFTEENTH.
          -Four different men hit more homers than he did. Two of those men played centerfield.
          -Bell had more RBI than he did.
          -Gonzalez scored 89 runs. 37 different American Leaguers scored more. ARod’s league leading 141 runs scored almost lapped Gonzalez altogether.
          -21 different men had more hits than Gonzalez.
          66 men had more walks than Gonzalez. 13 of them had TWICE as many. Jim Thome, Edgar Martinez, and Tony Phillips had almost three times as many.
          -Juan Gone played in only 134 games. Of the 18 non-pitchers to receive MVP votes, only Mark McGwire played less.
          -Gonzalez made two errors. His fielding percentage of .988 was 36th best among outfielders. The only outfielder who received votes with more errors and a lower FP was Albert Belle (who made 10 errors).
          -Gonzalez had 6 outfield assists. Every single vote getting OF had more. Lofton had 13. Belle had 11. Bernie, Griffey, Anderson, and Buhner had 10.

          Even with no advanced stats, Juan Gonzalez was a horrible MVP choice.

      • Jose the Satirist says:

        “They weren’t readily available online because the Internet wasn’t as it is today”

        Be right back, I’m firing up Usenet.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

          Do you have that list of local phone numbers that I can dial to get on the World Wide Web? I really don’t want to use that long distance number.

          /Good old days’d

    • Chris says:

      Most writers were seduced by Juan Gonzalez that year bc he drove in 100 runs before the All-Star break.

      Albert Belle had more RBI, more HR, and more R than Juan Gonzalez and he played for a playoff team.

      You can make a convincing case for any of about 10 candidates that year (using either traditional or advanced statistics), but not Juan Gonzalez.

    • A.) Please use the reply button.
      B.) Juan Gonzalez did not drive in 100 runs before the All Star Break. He drove in 70 runs before the ’96 ASB and 74 afterwards. And as stated above, Albert Belle had more RBI than Juan Gone all season long (both at the break and at season’s end) and was also on a playoff team, just like Juan Gone.
      C.) Mariano Rivera has never deserved the Cy Young. Ever.

    • A.D. says:

      these were not terms even the hard core baseball fans knew.

      Even if they weren’t, that doesn’t make it right that Juan Gone won the MVP when he shouldn’t have.

      Even in 1996 one could look at OBP, power numbers, the defensive position played & have some type of understanding how the player played at that position to come up with with an understanding that there were better options over Gonzalez.

  26. Evan3457 says:

    It’s not enough to make a difference, but Cano is outhitting Hamilton on the road by a smidge. Hamilton’s cloning Rogers Hornsby at home, though.

  27. poster on another computer who happens to be a deuce bag says:

    Wow, RAB must be slow today. I make a comment about current Yankee players wtaching Matsui’s porn collection and nobody bats an eyelash. Tsk tsk.

  28. UncleArgyle says:

    Either way, I think we can all agree that Cano’s 2010 season is impressive enough to earn him the 2007 MVP award….

    • Carlosologist says:

      No, A-Rod had an otherworldly season in 07. What he did that year blew everyone else out of the water.

      • UncleArgyle says:

        My Bad, I meant 2008 MVP, the one the little white guy won. Forgot rule # 8 about Mondays: No Posting on the internet until you’ve had at least one pot of coffee.

  29. pete says:

    I think it’s Hamilton, but it’s not as clear-cut as some people are making it out to be. I give a little more credence to fWAR than bWAR because I like UZR better than TZ, but nevertheless Cano is 1st in all of baseball in bWAR and 3rd (2nd in the AL) in fWAR. Hamilton, on the other hand, is 1st in fWAR, but 5th in bWAR. Like I said, I think Hamilton deserves it right now, but a strong Sept. from Cano coupled with any kind of slump from Hamilton and I think Cano would deserve it. That being said, he won’t win.

  30. I realize Fangraphs WAR formula is the general go-to but Sean Smith’s WAR (what you find on B-R) doesn’t like Hamilton near as much.

    This is their AL top 5

    R.Cano 6.3
    E.Longoria 5.9
    M.Cabrera 5.9
    J.Morneau 5.3
    J.Hamilton 5.2

    I’m not picking a fight or anything, just thought it was worth noting.

    • bexarama says:

      It’s utterly insane that Morneau is still worth 5.3 WAR despite not having played for over a month.

      • Tank Foster says:

        No it isn’t. That’s simply the number of wins he’s accumulated thus far….

        • Tank Foster says:

          Wait….I get it, sorry. You mean, his production must have been insane, if he could rank that high, and be inactive for the last month.

          Never mind. /emily-litella’d

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      Once again, WAR is a number containing flaws just as any other stat. I didn’t even realize two different sites had two different formulas for computing WAR. That makes it even less valuable in my book. There’s only one way to compute OPS, batting average, etc. That says something about the classics.

      • There’s only one way to compute OPS, batting average, etc. That says something about the classics.

        It says that they’re simple. It doesn’t say anything other than that. Simple is neither necessarily good or necessarily bad, it’s just simple.

        The same is true of complex, BTW.

        • Pete says:

          That. OPS is simple, but it tells less than wOBA.

          The more a statistic attempts to do, the more room for error within the stat. Compound statistics attempt to weight events based on historically averaged statistical significances. Doing so almost inevitably means ignoring pertinent information (either intentionally because of an inability to make use of the information or simply due to the relatively limited perspicacity of the human minds synthesizing the stats), which means that the weighting system will be flawed.

          Having said that, if you’re asked to compare twenty players based on nothing more than simple, inarguable stats – even the decent ones like BA/OBP/SLG/SB/CS/RF, etc., how are you going to do it without a way of weighting the stats you are given? Inevitably, you’ll weight them in your head based on your own perception of how significant certain things are relative to others. And I can guarantee you that the flawed weights based on 50+ years worth of collected data are MUCH more accurate than the haphazard biases of your own mind.

      • Pete says:

        WAR is an idea. WAR itself is not a statistic. fWAR is a statistic. bWAR is a statistic. They use different formulae to calculate their values. Fangraphs uses its own defensive stat, UZR. BB-R uses TZ. Their pitching evaluation is different as well.

        None of that makes either statistic worthless. That BA and wOBA are almost always different numbers renders neither useless. fWAR and bWAR are no different. They share the name “Wins Above Replacement” because they attempt to do the same thing – discern a player’s “true value” to his team. Neither method of determining that value is perfect, which makes it all the more worthwhile to look at both, not neither. Or find a stat that is perfect, if that’s easier.

        (It isn’t).

  31. Tank Foster says:

    Didn’t read the comment thread, so please flog me for redundancy, as needed…..

    I think if we’re gonna get all sabremetric in player analysis, you have to be careful how you use those stats. It isn’t just a raw WAR value, for example. It’s the MVP candidate’s WAR v. what is typical or expected at their defensive position, v. that difference for other candidates.

    Honestly, I think I would probably vote for Cano if I were in the BBWAA; I think his production coming from a middle infielder makes him more valuable than Josh Hamilton or Cabrera.

    But it’s very, very close, and I wouldn’t fault someone for voting for any of the three. And I do accept that, as good as Cano has been this year, a strict look at the numbers has him, at best, as #2 or #3.

  32. Tom Merritt says:

    Is this a joke? What are the odds that Cano will finish below .300 batting avg. when the season ends. He’s been on a downward spiral since the all star break. I like him and want him to do well but he’s no MVP. If he had come close in the 2nd half to his 1st half performance he would be a legit MVP candidate.

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