New York Yankees: How Robinson Cano Batting No. 3 Impacts the Entire Lineup

Joe PerrinoContributor IIIApril 5, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees celebrates his second inning grand slam against the Baltimore Orioles on September 5, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In baseball, there's an unwritten law that the third spot in the batting order is reserved for the best hitter on the team.

In the case of the New York Yankees, that player is Robinson Cano.

On a team full of superstars who play in perhaps the biggest sports city in America, the 29-year-old Cano rises above all at the plate.

Occupying almost every position in the batting lineup in his seven years with the Yankees, Cano began his career batting ninth, and ascended the lineup as he proved himself year after year.

With Joe Girardi's recent announcement from training camp, it seems as though Cano has finally found a permanent home in the Yankees' lineup.

This isn't just any home we're talking about.

Instead, Cano now occupies what many would call the most coveted position in the lineup.

In 2011, Robinson Cano spent most of his time batting in the No. 5 spot behind Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Cano also saw some at bats in the clean up position due to A-Rod's nagging injury.

Robbie finished the season with a team leading .302 batting average, 28 home runs, and 118 RBIs.

In the 2011 ALDS, Cano was given his shot to hit in the three hole as Teixeira struggled to find his swing. Needless to say, Cano capitalized— hitting a grand slam, an RBI double off the wall, and another RBI double all in the first game of the series.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees follows through on a eighth inning two run double against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Gett
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cano joins Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, and Bobby Richardson as the only Yankees with six RBIs in one postseason game.

Flash forward to the 2012 season, where Cano will be given the chance to solidify his job as the most feared hitter on the Yankees. His new spot gives the Yankees' lineup a whole new look and creates an intriguing storyline regarding the ways in which the rest of the order will be impacted.

The first way this move changes the dynamic of the lineup is Cano will see more at bats.

As a manager, you want to see your best hitters at the plate as often as possible. At the No. 3 slot, Cano is primed for a guaranteed sum of at bats.

Another change for Robbie is the fact he's very likely to get better looks at the plate this season than he did last year. In 2011, he led the team in intentional walks with over 10.

When you have a hitter like Alex Rodriguez in the on-deck circle, a walk is the last thing the pitcher wants.

The top two hitters in the Yankees lineup, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, will also benefit from Cano batting in the three spot.

In 2011, Cano had 118 RBIs, second only to Curtis Granderson, who had one more with 119. His ability to drive in runs will surely be of help to Jeter and Granderson, who usually have no trouble getting themselves on base.

Look for Jeter and Granderson to combine for a ton of runs in 2012.

After Cano comes Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who will also reap the rewards from Cano hitting third.

Although Cano sometimes struggles with his pitch selection, he still finished his 2011 campaign with a .349 on base percentage. Even if Cano doesn't get himself on base, he puts the bat on the ball and has the ability to advance runners.

In other words, A-Rod and Teixeira are primed for an increase in RBIs in 2012.

Robbie Cano batting third also takes some of the pressure off Teixeira, who I think is the perfect fit for the No. 5 slot. He still has power to bat in the bulk of the order, just not ahead of Cano.

It seems as though Teixeira is already accepting his new role.

When asked about hitting fifth, Mark said last September (via The New York Times), "I'm all for it; I think it's a great idea...for me, I may actually have more opportunities to drive in runs from the 5-hole, which is great. That's what I pride myself on every year ... a guy who drives in runs. This might be the start of something permanent where I have even more opportunities."

Although there hasn't been word from A-Rod, something tells me he'll be just fine with batting clean up.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankee bats against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Patrick
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The rest of the lineup could also see an increase in at bats if the newly vamped lineup turns out to be ideal as it sounds.

The fact of the matter is that a team can build their lineup around a solid No. 3 hitter. If Robbie Cano continues his success from 2010 and 2011, the entire Yankees' lineup will be staring success straight in the eyes in 2012.

With veterans Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez eventually on their way out, the Yankees will have some roles to fill at the plate.

When that day comes, you can be sure that Robinson Cano will be ready to continue his role as the anchor and centerpiece of the Yankees' lineup.