Today, it was reported by a bunch of sources that aren’t me that Yankees great Mariano Rivera essentially prefers Dustin Pedroia over Robinson Cano because he doesn’t “think Robby burns to be the best.” First of all, let’s just acknowledge the fact that I have a bias: I was born into Mariners fandom and have remained a fan over my years. That being said, Mariano Rivera is wrong.
Over the years, Mariano Rivera has been of the best closers in the history of baseball. Throwing a couple different types of fastballs almost exclusively, Mariano is one of a kind. No matter how much I have hated the Yankees over the years, I have always had respect for Derek Jeter and Mo. They’re classy, and they play the game correctly. Not that the game needs to be devoid of the Yasiel Puigs and Bryce Harpers, but having a good mix of goofballs and classy or modest players is good for baseball.
For Rivera to put down his former teammate is a little upsetting to say the least, and it’s out of character for Mo. For a player who has made approximately $169,441,825 according to Baseball Reference, money shouldn’t be an issue.
Whether or not Cano is putting his heart and soul out on the field is something Rivera might know more about than any of us would know. But I don’t believe that’s the case. To me, Robinson Cano is simply such a stellar athlete and baseball player that he makes it look easy. Maybe too easy. Everything about his game looks nonchalant. He always looks like he’s giving 75% effort, but he makes plays on offense, defense, and on the basepaths. And for what it’s worth, he seems to be taking on a mentor role for younger players. To say he’s not invested in the game is ridiculous to me. To say prefer Dustin Pedroia over him is even more ridiculous. Taking a less talented player who “tries harder” yet yields worse results is nonsensical as it gets. Cano is one of the most durable players in the game. From 2005-2014, Cano trails only Ichiro Suzuki and Miguel Cabrera in games played. Since 2007, he’s played at least 159 games every season and leads all second basemen in games played.
Looking at their WAR since 2010, Cano sits at 25.7 with Ben Zobrist trailing at 22.4, and Dustin Pedroia rounding out the top three at 21.3 For whatever reason, defensive metrics seemingly do not like Cano and love the crap out of Pedroia. To me, they both pass the eye test but I don’t think there’s a significant difference between them. UZR is a stat I use and refer to, but at this point we can’t be sure of how reliable it is because there are so many preliminary components to it such as ARM, DPR, RngR, and ErrR. Another thing is that UZR is essentially completely useless until there are three full season of data. Pedroia isn’t a bad player by any means, and he’s actually one of my favorite non-Seattle players in the MLB. Pedroia and Utley are the only two second basemen with the body of work to rival Cano’s.
I can’t confirm who is behind these thoughts in his book. Whether it is something he believes, or something that he was told would sell. Regardless, I have lost a little respect for Rivera today. No matter if that is something I believed, I personally would never throw my former teammate of nine years under the bus. Just like Lloyd McClendon, I’m defending Cano. Cano is our baby and you aren’t allowed to talk bad about him.
– Michael Ajeto