(AP) — New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has a choice for AL MVP: his second baseman, Robinson Cano.
“Just because his offense and, I believe, Gold Glove defense and how he impacts the game defensively,” Girardi said Saturday before New York played the Twins in Game 3 of the division series. “I think he’s had the best year.”
Cano batted .319 with career highs of 29 homers, 109 RBIs and a .381 on-base percentage, mostly batting fifth, behind Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees’ potent lineup for the first time in his career.
A smooth fielder who is especially deft at turning the double play, Cano led all second baseman with a .996 fielding percentage (three errors in 776 chances).
Entering spring training, the main issue concerning the Yankees’ lineup was who would replace World Series MVP Hideki Matsui in the No. 5 spot. Girardi entrusted the job to Cano.
“He’s been tremendous,” Girardi said.
After getting off to a fast start – he was hitting .376 on June 10 – Cano struggled somewhat in the second half. He batted only .262 in September, when the Yankees went 12-15 and lost the AL East to Tampa Bay.
Texas’ Josh Hamilton is the likely favorite to win the award in the American League. Despite missing most of September with broken ribs and playing hurt much of the season, he led the majors with a .359 batting average and a .633 slugging percentage. He hit 32 homers and drove in 100 runs.
DUSTY ON REPLAY: Reds manager Dusty Baker thinks the umpires missed at least one pivotal call during the Phillies’ comeback to a 7-4 win on Game 2 of their playoff series, but he’s not griping about it.
He doesn’t want more use of replay, either.
Baker said he thought umpire Ed Rapuano missed a forceout at second base during the seventh inning Friday night, when Philadelphia rallied to take the lead. Third baseman Scott Rolen threw to second to try to force Chase Utley, who was called safe on a close play.
Baker briefly argued the call.
“Whenever you get a chance to get the lead runner, you get the lead runner – and he did get the lead runner, right?” Baker said on Saturday. “How many times you seen Scottie make that same play? Like I said, Ed Rapuano’s one of the best umpires around, but it’s a bang-bang play and everybody’s capable of not getting it right.”
Utley had reached base on another disputed call. He acted like he’d been hit by an up-and-in pitch from Aroldis Chapman that registered 101 mph. Baker wasn’t sure whether the ball actually grazed Utley on the arm. Afterward, Utley acknowledged he wasn’t sure whether the ball hit him.
Asked if he’d be in favor of using replay more extensively to double-check such calls, Baker said, “You’ve got to leave some human element in there, you know what I mean?”
Baker empathizes with the umpires and how their split-second decisions are reviewed from multiple angles in slow motion, allowing for second-guessing.
“Everybody at home – they can slow it down, they have replay, they can have anything at different angles, whatever it is,” Baker said. “That’s a very tough situation.”
Baker joked that there’s one solution for the umpires.
“The only way to improve – you’ve got to get them maybe some ‘slow-mo’ glasses,” Baker said, chuckling. “If you give them slow-motion glasses, then they might see the same thing you guys see and what everybody sees on TV.”
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