The Yankees need Robinson Cano, and Robinson Cano needs the Yankees. It makes too much sense. As the Yankees most consistent hitter for a couple of years now, Cano is building a legacy in pinstripes, and he needs to remain in New York.
Cano has spent the last few years building a reputation as an elite second baseman, arguably the best in baseball (sorry, Dustin Pedroia). He has averaged 197 hits and over 100 runs per season the last four years (not including 2013). He has won two gold glove awards (2010, 2012) and is coming off back-to-back silver slugger awards (information via MLB.com).
Cano is having another great season in 2013. As of August 19, he leads New York with a .301 batting average and has hit 22 homeruns with 76 RBI (via yankees.com). If not for the monster numbers posted by Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis, Cano’s name would be mentioned in the MVP discussion.
Also keep in mind that he had no support behind him in the lineup for the first half of the season—no Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson or Derek Jeter.
Cano is now showing what he can do with some offense behind him. He boasts a stellar .350 in the month of August thus far hitting in front of red-hot Alfonso Soriano (.364, 6 HR, 20 RBI last ten games) and A-Rod.
He has been invaluable to the Yankees. With Jeter hurt and the whole A-Rod situation, he has been the face of the team this season. Aside from his brilliant play on the field, Cano has been a model citizen off the field. You never hear that he has gotten into trouble off the field, and that’s a nice change of pace for Yankee fans (A-Rod).
The Yankees need Cano for all these reasons. He is the new face of the franchise, and New York cannot let him walk in free agency. Imagine the 2014 Yankees without Cano (via sportsillustrated.com), "They cannot afford to lose him. A 2014 New York team without Cano, with no young talent and built on the hopes that a number of aging players can have last-gasp seasons, would be a disaster."
If he stays, his commitment, along with his image, could make him the next Yankees captain after Derek Jeter retires. Cano’s father, Jose, hopes he comes back to New York so his son can have his turn as the leader of the Yankees (via ESPNNewYork.com):
He could be the leader. Robinson is very smart and quiet; he is not going to talk too much. He is going to talk when he needs to talk; he is doing everything straight. Robbie signs, then I think he is going to be the captain [after Jeter].
How can Robinson Cano turn down the opportunity to be the next Yankees captain? To retire a Yankee? To get his own plaque in monument park? To have his number retired by the team? How often does this chance come along?
While none of this is set in stone (do the Yankees even want him to eventually be their captain?), Cano is well on his way. He owns a .308 career average, 1,597 hits, 199 HR and 791 RBI thus far through his first nine seasons (including this year) and he is still only 31 years old.
Let’s say his next contract lasts six or seven years. He has averaged a .307 average with 193 hits, 24 HR and 96 RBI per 162 games over his career (via baseball-reference.com). That would give him career totals of 2,755 hits 343 HR and 1,367 RBI if he plays six more years and 2,952 hits, 367 HR and 1,463 RBI if he plays seven more.
There are currently 19 second basemen in the Hall of Fame right now. The 2,952 hits would rank him fourth among Hall of Fame second basemen, behind Eddie Collins (3,315), Nap Lajoie (3,242) and Rod Carew.
The 367 home runs would lead all Hall of Fame second baseman and the next closest, Rogers Hornsby, would be sitting at 301. The 1,463 RBI would rank third behind Lajoie and Hornsby (1,599 and 1,584, respectively). *All Hall of Fame statistics provided by baseball-almanac.com.
Twenty years from now, how will Robinson Cano be remembered?
I think it is safe to say that if Robinson Cano keeps hitting the way he has hit in his first nine years in the league, he would be well on his way to the hall of fame. He would be the 37th Yankee in the Hall of Fame— there are 34 now, but let’s say that Jeter and Mariano Rivera will get in—if he stays in New York.
With all this being said, there is certainly a chance that Cano gets injured or has his production drop as he gets older. However, if he can stay healthy and if he continues to produce at an elite level, he will become a legend.