In reporters about his new autobiographical book “The Closer,” former New York Yankees all-star Mariano Rivera is quoted as saying he would take Boston’s Dustin Pedroia over former teammate Robinson Cano as his ultimate second baseman.
It’s an arguable point. Both have been lauded consistently in the past decade or so. By pure numbers, Cano has an edge. In the statistic Wins Above Replacement, which includes defensive performance as well as offense, Pedroia has had only one year above 6.9 in his career — he had 7.9 in 2011. Cano’s 8.4 in 2012 was second in the American League to Mike Trout. He had an 8.1 in 2010, which was second to Josh Hamilton. He was third in the AL last year with 7.6
In OPS-plus, which rates on-base plus slugging and accounts for the ballparks in which guys play, Pedroia’s best number is 131 in 2011. Cano has topped that four times. In addition, Cano is durable, having missed only 14 games since 2007. Pedroia has missed more than that in three separate seasons.
By I’m digressing because I’m a baseball stat-head and get too wrapped up in things like that.
Rivera makes his case about Cano by questioning his desire to be the very best he can be. Although Cano clearly has gotten a considerable amount out of his considerable talent, Rivera reportedly wrote, “You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
It’s hard to argue with that, especially because Rivera played beside Cano his whole career until now. Rivera appeared to have that passion himself and seems likely to recognize it in other players. So even though the numbers say otherwise, perhaps Pedroia really is the guy.
Even so, here’s the biggest question about all of this, and it’s one only Rivera can answer: What did Cano do that was worth throwing him under the bus? Did Cano borrow Rivera’s soap and never give it back?
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at email@example.com. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.