Who is the 2012 Yankees’ MVP?

Let’s start with the pitching. There really is not a starter that has run away from the pack. C.C. Sabathia, despite missing two stints on the disabled list, still leads the team’s pitchers in fWAR. But has he had a better season really than Hiroki Kuroda? His season is better than Phil Hughes and certainly Ivan Nova. But it hasn’t been a typical Sabathia season. If it was, he would be the team’s MVP hands down. What about the relief pitchers?

Rafael Soriano could probably make a case. His 42 saves after Mariano Rivera got hurt have been invaluable and is a good reason why the Yankees won those 42 games. But how do you valuate a relief pitcher? Is his 64 innings as valuable as Kuroda’s 200+? That doesn’t feel right. He does have a WPA of over three, which leads the team. And his three to one strikeout to walk ratio is nice. But his actual fWAR is 1.5 and David Robertson‘s is 1.6. I can never bring myself to give a relief pitcher any kind of Cy Young or Most Valuable Player Award kinds of awards. Truth be told, the Yankees would have been in a pickle without him. But still.

Okay, so no pitcher is running away with the award. What about position players? Robinson Cano leads the those players with a 6.2 fWAR. Perhaps we are too close to Robinson Cano to see him clearly as a value proposition. We watch the games day after day and see his terrible numbers in clutch situations and with runners in scoring position and he just doesn’t feel like an MVP of the team. His WPA is second on the team to Mark Teixeira. But Cano does lead the team in wOBA and wRC+ and has played his position with aplomb this season. So perhaps he is the guy. He never misses any time and is a constant in the Yankees’ order and always a threat.

Teixeira would have had a chance at the award if he had stayed healthy. Despite missing thirty games, he has driven in 81 runs and played superb defense. But he simply missed too much time. Alex Rodriguez is out for the same reason, though he hasn’t produced like Teixeira. Nick Swisher is the only other regular that has been a fixture in the lineup all season. He has had a good season, but not a great one. No one believes me, but Russell Martin has played way better than most people think. But he is not the team’s MVP.

So that leaves us with the Captain. Derek Jeter has had a season nobody expected him to have. His 3.5 fWAR is hurt by horrible defensive numbers but is still his best since 2009. The guy has 203 hits for crying out loud and his slugging percentage is right around his career average. He is going to finish with a batting average of around .320. But again, there is that defense. And despite his batting average, he is second on the team in wOBA to Cano. I couldn’t give the award to Jeter. He’s been a horse. He’s been an inspiration. But he’s not an MVP.

So…by default and somewhat grudgingly, the team’s most valuable player has to go to Robinson Cano. Sometimes he frustrates those of us who watch him play every day. But on the whole, he is the team’s best player.

What do you think? If you had a vote, who would you give the team’s most valuable player award to? Would you give it to Soriano? Jeter? Cano? Or someone like Kuroda who has been the one rock solid starter in a season of starter flux? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

13 thoughts on “Who is the 2012 Yankees’ MVP?

  1. I agree with you: It has to be Cano, as frustrating as the guy is. (I think of him as the anti-Cervelli this year — Cervelli's numbers were always terrible, but my perception was that when he did get a hit, it was a big one.)

    As an aside related to the introduction above, how much better (at lease, more exciting) is the race this year with the one-game Wild Card gimmick? Remember last year when the Yankees didn't care if they won the division or wree the wild card and played like it? The only drama was whether the Yankees could play so badly that they'd screw the Red Sox out of the postseason (which, I admit, was kinda sweet). But this year, they REALLY want to win the division, and it's making for a much more exciting September.

  2. Jeter. If not straight out, at least shared with someone else. I like Cano but I'm not 100 percent sold on Cano getting it alone and I like Granderson. Honestly, this year's team success has been solely based on every player contributing, especially at times when it was least expected. This is one of those times when the default, politically-correct player answer, when deflecting called out individual accomplishment, responds that it was a team effort, really holds true. Have the entire team be the MVP for the year, seriously. Obviously, others will find fault in my suggestion. That's fine, that's what these websites are for, creating a discussion. Thanks!

  3. Your analysis is all wrong, Derek Jeter is the leader of this team. It is not a perfect team and neither is he, yet day in and day out he is the difference maker. You are critical of his defense, give me a break. His defense is fine yes he has errors yes his range is not what it use to be, however when comes down to winning the game he is the one most essential part of whether it is going to happen or not. Derek Jeter his name is synonymous with winner and MVP.

    • Geez, Larry. I started a conversation with my opinion and then asked yours. I didn't start it by saying you're all stupid if you don't agree with me. :)

      • William, of course your stupid. You air your opinions everyday, for who knows how many people to read (does anyone actually know?). If your not stupid you're pretty brave and either way you do a great job. I've been really happy to read your work ever since you came aboard.

  4. I really have a problem with the way Jeter's fielding gets harped on. I'd be pushing it if i said that his range "gives" the other team at least a hit every other game. How many of those hits come around to actually score? How many of them make a difference? And then to completely ignore the fact that he is nearly automatic on the routine plays? A lot of it does sound like just a reason to get on The Captain's case. Jeter is the MVP in my book.

  5. I did not write or say that you were stupid just wrong, everybody makes mistakes, one other thing Robinson Cano is a great player and Yankee. However he looks like his spirits are down and is in a terrible slump. He could be all world however in my opinion he has not come close to his full potential. When his head is screwed on right he is one of the top five players in baseball.

  6. Ichiro, it might seem strange at first but think about it: dude pushed them into the division lead over and against the Orioles, playing maybe the leagues best outfield defense and out hitting the rest of the team. When it's all over, who else?