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Last Week: No. 3
The Yankees are slipping. They're now under .500 since the All-Star break at 24-25, and they've lost 10 of their last 13 games overall. Their lead in the AL East has shrunk to a single game.
There are many explanations for the Yankees' collective slump. One that hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention is the fact that the team's slump is coinciding with a bad slump on the part of Robinson Cano.
Over his last 19 games (18 starts), Cano is hitting .224/.316/.448 with just three RBI. All three of those RBI came courtesy of solo home runs.
His struggles are thus somewhat emblematic of the struggles the Yankees' offense is experiencing as a whole. The home run is still the club's primary means of scoring runs, but they haven't hit enough of them lately and they haven't forayed into alternative means of putting runs on the board.
To this end, Cano obviously isn't the only player in pinstripes who's not pulling his weight these days. He deserves to be singled out anyway because he's the best hitter the Yankees have, and it's pretty clear right now that they're just not the same team when he's not hitting.
And indeed, this is the time of year when MVP candidates like Cano need to be at their best, not their worst.
Cano is still an MVP candidate for the time being because his poor production over the last few weeks should not overshadow a full season's worth of production. Despite his recent slump, Cano is still hitting a solid .303/.366/.544 with 28 home runs and 71 RBI. Per FanGraphs, his .384 weighted on-base average ranks seventh in the American League.
Though Cano has come under fire for his lackadaisical effort on Chris Gimenez's ground-ball single on Labor Day, his defense is the last thing anybody should be worried about. He has a 7.2 UZR and he leads all AL second basemen with a DRS (defensive runs saved) of +15 on the season, according to FanGraphs.
Combine his offensive and defensive contributions, and you have a WAR that FanGraphs has calculated at 5.8. That ties Cano with Miguel Cabrera for second in the American League.
The only way Cano is falling out of the top five in the AL MVP race is if his slump continues for another week or two.
...And that, of course, is a possibility that must not be ruled out.