Two days ago, I wrote that Robinson Cano has been more valuable than Derek Jeter. Yesterday, Andy Corselli defended Jeter’s case. Then we put up a poll. Last time I checked, Jeter was winning 44 to 10. Really guys? I tried to let it go, but I just can’t. Jeter has absolutely NOT been more valuable than Cano this year. Last time, I thought I gave a pretty thorough defense, but clearly it’s not convincing most people. So this time, I’m just going to list some interesting facts that might be surprising to you given the common narrative about Jeter and Cano, and you can decide what to do with them yourself.
- In September, Jeter has an .822 OPS (on-base plus slugging) and Cano has a .900 OPS.
Does this surprise you? It surprised me, and I’m a Cano defender! Though the narrative has been that Jeter has produced in September when the Yankees have needed him most while Cano has choked, it turns out that Cano is actually the one that has produced. Their on-base percentages are very close, but Cano is hitting for more power this month. So if your argument hinges on Jeter picking it up in September, think again.
- Cano had a .712 OPS in his worst month (April). Jeter had a .608 OPS in his worst month (June) and a .692 OPS in his second worst month (May).
One of the other big talking points for Jeter defenders is his consistency. Well as you can see, Cano’s worst month is still better than Jeter’s worst two. Jeter’s batting average went from .389 to .293 to .232 to .346 in the first four months of the season. For better or worse, that’s not consistent.
- With men on base, Jeter has an .811 OPS while Cano has a .921 OPS.
I noted this in my previous post, but despite all reports to the contrary, Cano has hit much better than Jeter with men on base. Now this isn’t saying anything about RISP situations, where I completely admit that Jeter has out hit Cano. However, people seem to forget all other important situations, like when a runner is on first. Cano has hit 14 home runs with runners on compared to Jeter’s 3. Though Jeter is getting far more singles, those home runs with men on can really make all the difference in a close game.
- When leading off innings, Cano gets on base at a slightly higher rate than Jeter, and has hit the same number of home runs in half the opportunities.
Jeter and Cano both have exactly a .361 batting average when leading off innings, despite the common notion that Jeter is more valuable because of his leadoff capabilities. And though Jeter’s six leadoff home runs are impressive, Cano’s six in almost exactly half the plate appearances is even more so.
- Jeter’s OPS is 68 points higher when the Yankees win as when they lose. Cano’s OPS is 357 points higher when they win.
This fact is my response to those who argue that Jeter “just knows how to win”. I never know what that really means, but this could be one meaning. If a player’s success largely correlates with their team’s success, then they “know how to win” more than a player for which this is less true. In games that the Yankees win, Cano is spectacular, whereas Jeter is better relative to the average player when the Yankees lose. I personally don’t think we should take much from this other than the fact that the “Jeter knows how to win” saying is a little silly.
- In “Late and Close” situations, Jeter has a .756 OPS and Cano has a .923 OPS.
According to Baseball Reference, “Late & Close [situations] are Plate Appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.” So basically, these are very important situations, and in them, Cano has performed much better than Jeter. Now I’m not saying that these are the only situations, or that Cano has been more clutch overall, but that it all depends on how you look at it. Regardless, the “clutch factor” is certainly closer than most people think.
Ok, that’s all I’ve got at the moment. Look, I understand that everyone loves Derek Jeter. Heck, he’s been my favorite player as long as I can remember. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he’s having a spectacular season, especially given his age. But nearly every argument made in favor of him over Cano is flawed. Some of the reasons people give are insignificant (“hustle” and “grit”), some are just wrong (good defense), and some are seemingly true but are less clear when you examine them closely (clutch performance, consistency, September success).
If you have an argument that I did not address here or a few days ago, please let me know in the comments. Based on the large majority who voted Jeter on the poll, maybe there’s something I missed. But no matter how I look at it, Cano always comes out on top.