How hot has Robinson Cano been to start the season?
If he went hitless in his next 29 at-bats, he'd still be hitting .300. Based on the first 21 games of the season, however, there would seem to be a better chance of Mark Teixeira realizing that baseball seasons actually start in April.
Whether you like your statistics old-school (batting average, slugging percentage) or new-school (wOBA), Cano has been the leading hitter in all of baseball across the season's first month. That's been quite helpful to the Yankees.
Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez haven't been themselves and, generally, the offense has performed below expectations. Cano's month has helped make sure that those struggles don't show up in the standings.
He's certainly closing with a flourish. Cano blasted a pair of home runs, scored three runs and made a spectacular play on a ball up the middle on Thursday night to propel the Yankees to a series win in Baltimore. The struggles of the other stars in the lineup have given Cano a platform he doesn't usually get in the crowded Yankee clubhouse.
That's what leads to hyperbolic headlines like the one on top of this post. One month does not a season make and there's a decent chance that Rip Van Teixeira will wind up as a better candidate when all is said and done.
That said, there's reason to believe that Cano may be embarking on the best season of his career.
He's 27, an age that's been found to be firmly in the peak years of a player's career. Cano posted excellent numbers in April of 2009 as well before dropping off to a good but not otherworldly numbers the rest of the way.
This year has seen a higher walk rate, a great sign for a player not known for his patience, and a jump in isolated power, a great sign for a player who usually derives most of his value from batting average. A more patient and more powerful Cano is a Cano that could -- heavy emphasis on could -- contend for the MVP award.
After all, Dustin Pedroia won one for the Red Sox and it is looking like one of the storylines of this season will be the battle for AL East second base supremacy between these two players. If Cano winds up on top, it's the kind of narrative that helps when it comes time for writers to vote on awards.
Plenty of time for all that, though. For now, just enjoy the fireworks Cano's producing and worry about his trophy case down the road.