Robinson Cano Gets His Due

Cano moves up to third to maximize his opportunities

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011  |  Updated 8:10 AM EDT
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The Yankees lost again on Tuesday night as former Rays reliever Rafael Soriano served up a three-run home run to Matt Joyce in the seventh inning to give his old mates a 5-3 win.

It was quite a moment. The larger than normal crowd at the Trop went nuts and it will be the kind of thing that pops up on Rays highlight films forever if they are able to see this thing through for one or two more days and wind up in the playoffs.

Great baseball moment that it may have been, it wasn't the most interesting thing that happened on Tuesday night. That happened hours earlier when Joe Girardi posted a lineup card that had Robinson Cano hitting third and Mark Teixeira dropped down to the fifth spot in the order.

After all the talk earlier in the season about Derek Jeter's spot in the order and Jorge Posada's terrible night in Boston when he was actually dropped in the order, it is pretty amazing that the most significant change in the lineup didn't take place until a meaningless (for the Yankees, anyway) Game 161. Cano has been the best overall hitter on the team over the last two seasons, but it is still odd that Girardi would make a move like this just before the playoffs.

Girardi, who has apparently been taking classes from Soviet PR people in recent weeks, refused to say whether the move would carry into the playoffs against righty pitching. He did say that the old lineup would remain in place against lefties.

Research has shown that changes in batting orders generally lead to very little difference in the amount of runs created, but there's still reason to like this move from the Yankees perspective.

Cano has been drawing a lot of intentional walks in recent weeks, something that is a lot less likely to happen with Alex Rodriguez hitting behind him instead of Nick Swisher.

There's also the simple fact that Cano is a better hitter than Teixeira, even if Teixeira weren't fighting his way through a season where he's found it hard to find hits other than home runs from the left side. The one truism of lineup construction is that your best hitters should get as many at bats as possible, so it makes all the sense in the world to bump Cano as close to the top as possible.

The batting order is headline, but it isn't the only story at work here. Thanks to the milestones reached by Jeter and Mariano Rivera, a good bit of this season has been about the past, but this little move is a reminder that time marches on and that the Yankees will have new superstars over the years.

Cano is the next one in line and this move merely underlines that fact. He's been the best player on the Yankees for a while now, so it is about time he gets the star slot in the lineup.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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