New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is a great baseball player. Of this, I am certain. He hits fastballs and off speed and breaking pitches all with equal aplomb. His contact rate on pitches he swings at is excellent and as a left handed hitter with pull power, he was practically made to find success at Yankee stadium.
In Game One of the ALDS series against the Detroit Tigers, Cano almost single handedly supplied all of the Yankees offense, so much so that in my game summary I suggested that perhaps the most important play of the game was his name being pencilled into the lineup card. He was brilliant. He went three for five with two doubles and a home run, knocking in six runs and contributing 20% to the probability of the Yankees winning, which they did 9-3.
Cue the hysterics and hyperbole.
Cano’s performance in Game One caused ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor to write a gushing piece that calls the player a murderer’s row of one. It’s a pretty unrealistic article, the only good of which can be drawn from it is that it is the perfect example of the misuse of the playoff spotlight.
It’s easy to get excited about your team, and it’s easy to get excited about a player who has a good game, but it’s almost a disservice to Cano or any other great baseball player to proclaim his excellence based on one game. After all, Robinson Cano is a better baseball player than Pat Borders, and the many other players who put together a more sterling playoff series than the rest of their career would indicate that they were capable of.
The overreaction of the O’Connor piece suggests such ridiculous things as Cano’s double to left field being more impressive than his home run to right because:
Cano showed his willingness to use the entire ballpark, his refusal to be seduced by the enticing dimensions in right, when he landed a Doug Fister fastball on the top of the wall in left.
Yeah, because where the baseball is hit is far more important than what result it causes.
It’s a ridiculous statement, but it’s nothing compared to what O’Connor suggests later in the article:
It’s hard to believe there was a time in the not-too-distant past when most baseball executives would’ve picked Dustin Pedroia over Cano in an open draft of middle infielders.
The not too distant past? What, like a week ago? I’m no Red Sox apologist, but there were five second baseman this season with a higher wins above replacement total than Cano, including Pedroia who was the best in the league at his position. In fact, in any season that the Boston second baseman has been healthy he has outperformed Cano, and Pedroia is almost an entire year younger.
If a baseball executive ever picked Cano over Pedroia he’d have a lot of explaining to do.
And of course, in Game Two of the series, Cano had another opportunity to shine. Down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth with two out and base runners on first and second, Cano came up to bat. Unfortunately, this time, it wasn’t in the cards as he ended up grounding out to second base to end the game.
That doesn’t make Cano a bad player any more than Game One made him a great one. One game, no matter how bright the spotlight might be, does not a player make. However, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps in this instance it would’ve been alright for Cano to have been seduced by the dimensions in right field.
And The Rest
Where the series stand: The Yankees and Tigers are tied at one, the Rangers and Rays are tied at one, the Phillies and Cardinals are tied at one, and the Brewers have a two game lead on the Diamondbacks.
The St. Louis Cardinals used seven pitchers in last night’s 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Congratulations, Tony LaRussa, your team has already accomplished more than I imagined it would.
Breaking news: it’s easy to dislike Tony LaRussa.
The Cardinals win was a perfect example of batted balls finding holes in the defense.
Last night’s game also included this bit of Jon Jay on Carlos Ruiz violence.
Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman wasn’t impressed by the Philadelphia crowd apparently showing off their fancy reading skills, but how can you not be impressed with this guy, right here:
Back in New York, a beer vendor was suspended for . . . well, kind of being friendly with a Boston Red Sox pitcher.
Meanwhile, C.C. Sabathia will start Game Three while the A.J. Burnett show is set to star in Game Four.
An ode to Ramon Santiago.
I just don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with Yankees fans.
Is Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein on his way to the Chicago Cubs.
Josh Hamilton is not looking forward to the prospect of facing David Price at Tropicana Field.
Can Ozzie Guillen attract Carlos Zambrano to Miami next season?
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is the preferred choice to replace Guillen in Chicago.
Jimmy Rollins wasn’t impressed with Jose Reyes calling it a day after his first at bat in the last game of the regular season.
Toronto Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu could be a managerial option in Boston. I think I’d prefer they just took John Farrell.
The other Billy Bean.
A.J. Pierzynski will give broadcasting a shot, and then broadcasting will probably want to give him a shot back, the jerk.
C.J. Wilson gives his food picks to Bon Appetit. And he’s not sleazy because he always offers to cook a girl breakfast, which is much better than merely leaving out some bus fare.
Newsday’s Ken Davidoff gives us his award selections.
Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that Ian Kinsler plays for the Texas Rangers.