While all 2Bs pale in comparison this year to Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist, and Ian Kinsler (whose BABIP is only .238, btw, if you’d like to trade for him in your fantasy league) I found myself caught in the midst of a debate the other day over the relative merits of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Yankee middleman Robinson Cano.
So I did what I do in these situations: I looked at a bunch of numbers. (In this case, all these numbers were up-to-date going into last night’s action.)
Cano is hitting .310/.342/.491. Pedroia’s hitting .304/.377/.423. Pedroia takes 3.90 pitches per plate appearance, while Cano takes 3.38; walks-per-K puts Pedroia at 1.56, Cano at .60. They have each grounded into 13 double plays. They each have 58.5 runs created. Edge? I’d call it even. Cano hits more homers, but Pedroia has more patience at the plate and hits a lot of doubles.
What about baserunning? Cano has 4 stolen bases and has been caught 4 times. Pedroia’s swiped 14 bags and has been caught stealing 5 times. But before you hand the crown to Pedroia, take a look at their EQBRR: 0.54 (Pedroia) vs 0.83 (Cano). Pedroia isn’t actually that fast; he steals those bases with his ninja skills. So while Pedey swipes more bags, it seems Cano is actually the better baserunner. Edge? I guess I’ll give it to Cano, since the value of a stolen base is marginal.
Looking at some more advanced metrics, Pedroia’s wOBA is .357 to Cano’s .356, and his wRAA is 10.1 to Cano’s 9.4. And Pedroia’s wRC also outstrips Cano’s by a narrow margin, 59.9 to 57.5. Pedroia’s WAR: 2.8. Cano’s? 2.5. Pedey has a RAR of 27.6, while Cano has a RAR of 25. VORP: Pedroia is at 22.0 to Cano’s 22.5. Perhaps Pedroia has a slight edge overall here, but even so, am I the only one who feels like we’re splitting hairs?
On defense, Cano has turned 6 more DPs than DP, and Pedroia has 5 errors to Cano’s 3. But again, before you declare Cano the victor, keep in mind that Pedroia’s UZR is 5.8, and has been a positive number ever full season in the bigs so far. Cano’s current rating of 0.7 marks only the second time in five seasons (counting this one) that he’s put up a positive UZR. Edge? Pedroia.
One area where Pedroia has Cano handily beat is WPA (win probability added), which puts Pedroia at 0.93 and Cano at -1.92 — the worst of any regular second baseman in MLB.
Pedroia has two All-Star nods, an MVP trophy, a Rookie of the Year award, a Gold Glove, and (somewhat hilariously) a Silver Slugger. He’s 25 and is signed to a $40.5 million, 6-year contract (2009-2014) with a club option for 2015. In three full seasons, he has an OPS+ of 111.
Cano was a ROY runner up, has one All-Star nod, a silver slugger, and came in 22nd in MVP voting in 2006. He’s 26. He’s signed to a 4 year, $30 million contract (2008-2011), with club options for ’12 and ’13. In five seasons, Cano has an OPS+ of 110.
Can you tell the difference? I’m not sure I can.