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New York Yankees Have MVP Candidate in Robinson Cano

Four-Time All-Star Poised for Big Contract Year

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New York Yankees Have MVP Candidate in Robinson Cano
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Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is poised for a big contract year in 2013.

COMMENTARY | When thinking of players who could contend for the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player Award, one would be wise not to forget about New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

Cano, 30, is a four-time All-Star who has two top-five finishes in the MVP voting already to his credit. After a .319/.381/.534 season in 2010 that included 29 homers, 103 runs and 109 RBIs, Cano placed third in the voting behind Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

Cano was fourth in the voting last season after he hit .313/.379/.550 with a career-best 33 home runs, 105 runs and 94 RBIs. Cabrera, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, and Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers were the only players to accumulate more MVP support in 2012.

And Cano already has one MVP Award to his credit in 2013.

In the World Baseball Classic, Cano led the Dominican Republic to a perfect 8-0 record and was named MVP of the event. In 35 plate appearances Cano was 15-for-32 with a .514 on-base percentage, slugged .781 and had four doubles, two homers, six runs and six RBIs.

Since breaking out as a star during the Yankees' World Series title season of 2009, Cano has been almost monotonous in his consistency over the last four seasons.

He has averaged .314/.365/.534 in that span, never hitting lower than .302 with a high of .320. His slugging percentage variance has been between .520 and .550. He's averaged 104 runs, 29 home runs and 102 RBIs over that period.

He's been solid defensively as well, winning a pair of Gold Gloves. And he's been durable. From 2009-12, Cano has played in 641 of a possible 648 games. For a team as beaten up physically as the Yankees have been this spring, having someone such as Cano who will be in the lineup almost every single day is a nice thing to be able to count on.

Cano also has extra incentive in 2013. He is in the final year of the six-year, $57 million contract he signed in 2008 and, based on Friday's signings of Justin Verlander of the Tigers (seven years, $180 million) and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants (a nine-year, $167 million extension), Cano is almost certain to cash in huge, either with the Yankees or in free agency this winter.

If Cano can keep the Yankees from experiencing the collapse nearly every expert is calling for in 2013 that should make him a very viable candidate for Most Valuable Player honors.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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