Considering Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have all suffered long-term injuries at one time or another during the 2013 season, it seems impossible that the New York Yankees are still in the playoff hunt.
But here we are on September 12 and the Yankees are still in the race for the second AL Wild Card sport, standing only one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays after Wednesday night’s 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
How have the Yankees have survived all of these injuries? Those looking for the answer immediately turns to Robinson Cano, the man who has been the catalyst of the team since day one.
During the 2013 season, Cano has been the Yankees’ rock, as he is one of only five Yankees to appear in more than 100 games. He is the only one on the team with more than 57 RBIs, and is the only one with a .300 or better batting average. Overall, he has put up a slash line of .309/.383/.516 with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs while playing in 145 of 146 games.
Cano has also played flawless defenses, posting a measly five errors throughout the 2013 season and making incredible plays on what seems to be a nightly basis. This part of his play can not be underrated, especially considering just how much the Yankees had to work at keeping games to low-scoring affairs in order to have a chance to win early on in the season.
To make Cano’s season even better, he has only heated up as the season has progressed, dispelling any notions that he is not a clutch player. During the month of August, he put up a stat line of .370/.442/.570, which went a long way in helping to bring the Yankees back from the hole of being seven games out of the second AL Wild Card spot on August 7.
Over the last seven days, Cano has kept up a similarly scorching pace with a line of .355/.375/.548 , adding a huge home run on Wednesday night in the top of the ninth inning to help lead the Yankees win.
Overall, it is easy to see that Cano has been one of the best players in the AL throughout the 2013 season according to both the pure eye and sabermetrics. His WAR is third in the AL behind only Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, so he has became a true candidate for the AL MVP award.
In the case of Trout, there is really no place to go but down for the Angels despite the amount of talent in their lineu. The team is 14.5 games out of the AL West and 9.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card Spot, so how valuable has Trout really been?
While a completely different situation from that of Trout, the question must be asked as to whether the Tigers would really not be in playoff contention without the contributions of Miguel Cabrera. After all, they still have big boppers Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder and Torii Hunter in the middle of their lineup, so it would be hard to see them dropping the six games they stand above the Cleveland Indians.
In the end, what separates Cano from both Trout and Cabrera in the race for the AL MVP Award has a lot more to do with his value to the Yankees that cannot be measured, rather than what the back of his baseball card says. Lets just hope that the voters for the MVP award consider more than the back of a baseball card when they go to vote in October.