As the New York Yankees continue to be at the top of the American League each season, they are doing so with a new crop of star players and leaders.
Robinson Cano is the biggest star and leader of that collective group.
Cano has become one of the purest hitters in all of baseball, as well as wowing fans with his spectacular plays at second base.
With the Yankees set to begin their defense of the American League East crown, Cano is the focal point of an offense poised to be among the elite in baseball.
As Derek Jeter nears the end of his career, Robinson Cano is ready to take over the reigns as Yankee superstar and ultimate team player.
In today's game, it it very rare for a player to spend his entire career with one organization.
Thus far, Robinson Cano has done that.
Cano was taken in the amateur draft in 2001 and has been a part of the Yankees organization ever since. Cano has been a part of the major league club since 2005, where he has steadily improved every season.
Now, Cano is in the MVP discussion every season and, although he is surrounded by superstar talents in New York, he stands out among them.
Since joining the Yankees in 2005, Cano has hit 144 home runs with 621 RBI and a career average of .308.
The Yankees are known most for their willingness to spend big money on free agents, as well as parting with prospects to get proven big-league talent. Robinson Cano has been the exception to that philosophy and has proven to the Yankees that patience can be everything with a prospect.
With plenty of young talent on the roster, the Yankees should be feeling good about their chances to defend their 2011 American League East title.
However they should also be concerned with the age of their top-paid players.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were at the top of the baseball world for almost their entire careers but now their years of playing experience have caught up to them.
Rodriguez has been plagued by hip and knee injuries the past few seasons and Jeter's production from the top of the order has begun to diminish.
With the decline of their top players, the Yankees have turned to Robinson Cano to fill the roll of superstar.
So far, Robinson Cano has answered the bell.
Cano finished third in the MVP voting just two seasons ago and backed it up with another stellar performance in 2011.
If his trend of continued improvement spills over into 2012, the Yankees will have a full fledged superstar on their hands. A scenario they most certainly would love to come to fruition.
As Boston Red Sox second basemen Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP in 2008, there was little doubt who was the best second basemen in the game.
Today, Robinson Cano has eclipsed Pedroia as top performer at second and has made a case for himself that he, too, deserves an MVP.
In a rivalry that is the best in all of sports, Cano has proven that he is at the top of the list when it comes to talent and overall playing ability.
Being a leader means that you are always there for your team and teammates.
Robinson Cano can say this.
Since 2007, Cano has missed a total of 11 games. Yes, just 11. TOTAL. That few of games missed is remarkable for any player in a given season but to miss that combined over a five-year span is incredible and speaks to Cano's ability to play through injury and pain.
Not even DH's can say that they have kind of durability and they don't even have to put their body on the line out in the field.
As a teammate, Cano can be counted on to be in the lineup day after day and play at an elite level.
When a superstar player wants to be in the lineup every day, it shows how passionate he is about the game and that sort of drive can rub off on to the whole team inspire a team's effort.
Robinson Cano has that type of impact on the Yankees.
As a superstar player, you are instantly thrown into a leadership role.
Teammates look to you for advice and guidance. You can either relish the opportunity to be a vital part of a temmate's success or shut yourself off from the team and create a rift between players.
As a perfect role model, Derek Jeter has shown what it takes to be an incredible leader. But as Jeter's days as a player draw closer to an end, someone must pick up the torch.
That player is Robinson Cano.
Cano is not just seen as a leader by the Yankees but also by Major League Baseball in general. Cano was selected to be part of the 2011 Taiwan All-Star series. While in Taiwan, Cano took an opportunity to make a difference and visited children at a hospital in Taiwan.
Cano also works with the Red Cross and was a part of the 2008 Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet.
As Cano continues to cement himself as one of the games best, he still finds time to support his community and make a difference.
That is the true measure of a leader.