In past years, this may have been more debatable with Derek Jeter in his prime and Jose Reyes electrifying an entire stadium as he rounded the bases, but coming into 2013, I can only think of two players as answers to this question: Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees & David Wright of the New York Mets. If you’re telling me I have the opportunity to start my own franchise, and I could pluck players from both major league rosters, those would be the first two I look at, without question.
It may have taken a declining Derek Jeter, an injured Alex Rodriguez and a $189 million dollar spending limit by the Yanks for him to ascend to the top of the list this year, but Robbie Cano has had the speed, bat and the outstanding range in the field needed to surpass all-comers for a while now. His power numbers have been consistently among the best in baseball, playing in the American League East. Between the pitching, players and spending by organizations, the AL East is widely considered the best division in baseball. He’s doing his best work against the best!
Critics of Cano will point out him not “busting it out of the box and running hard to first base” on those routine ground balls. Others will site his fielding technique, slandering him as a player that doesn’t play hard all of the time. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe he does take it easy on the routine grounders, and that’s fine with me! I’ll be right there to call him out if he fails to take advantage of a fielding error by the opposition, but after seeing Jeter break his ankle fielding a ball and hearing about Mark Teixeira tearing a tendon in his wrist while hitting off a tee… I’ll take Robinson Cano and his “laziness” any day! The man seems to play the field with such grace, he glides to the ball. He attacks with no wasted motion. Does he need to get his pinstripes dirty for people to appreciate him, if so, that’s the real shame. Pete Rose or Dustin Pedroia he is not, he’s Robinson Cano… one of the best players in baseball.
David Wright has been the pillar of the Mets organization for the last few years, earning a huge extension and being named the fourth captain in team history. His bat and steady glove at third base have been salvation for an organization going through a rebuilding phase. Long gone is his running mate, Jose Reyes (first to Miami, and now Toronto). Who put the bigger dent in the franchise, Bernie Madoff or Jason Bay? After putting up average third baseman power numbers for years, the Mets move into Citi Field and its cavernous outfield. His power numbers dropped like a rock. Through it all, Wright maintained a high batting average (at the top of the league for most of last season) and has been an example of how a franchise player should carry himself. The fences were moved in last season, so let’s see how those power numbers respond in 2013.
It’s a toss-up between the power and grace of Robbie Cano or the rock-solid company man that is, David Wright. I’m leaning more toward Cano as the best player in New York City because of how easy the game seems to be for him. He literally plays the game of baseball the way great international soccer stars play the beautiful game. His swing, his stance, his style, makes for an entertaining player to watch. Look, I’m the furthest thing from a fan of the Yankees, but I’m starting to become a HUGE fan of Robinson Cano.
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com