It’s hard to make a case for him based on just the raw stats, traditional or sabermetrics. Robbie is top 10 in the AL in most key categories (OPS+, wOBA, wRC+, H, TB, OPS, fWAR) but top 5 in few (BA, RBI, bWAR). He doesn’t rank higher than 4th in any offensive category and while his defense does rate as a positive, he’s not near the league lead in runs saved. Robbie’s counting stats have taken a hit due to the weak surrounding lineup he’s had for the majority of the season, especially runs scored (just 80). His 27 HR, 104 RBI, and .312 batting average aren’t eye-popping enough to overcome that when compared to the same stats of guys like Miggy, Trout, and Chris Davis.
Which brings us to the situational argument. For once, Cano has his status as a Yankee working to his advantage in this part of the evaluation. He’s been one of only 2 above-average bats in the lineup for the entirety of this season, and the only one of those bats that’s a real run producer. On a team that ranks in the bottom third of MLB in positional player fWAR (10.5), 28th in w RC+ (86), and in the bottom half of team FIP (3.95), he’s been responsible for more than half of that fWAR (5.9). The Yankees as a team don’t hit at all and they don’t pitch all that well. Cano’s presence and production is the sole reason they are even still mentioned as part of the AL playoff race and, oh by the way, he’s played in all but 1 game this year.
Miggy has more support in his lineup and the best rotation in the AL backing him. Davis plays on one of the deepest offensive teams in the league and still might not make the playoffs himself. And Mike Trout is stuck again on a crappy ballclub nowhere near the postseason conversation. If cases are being made based on who meant the most to his team, that’s a case that Robbie can win.
In the end, I don’t expect Robbie to pull off the improbable and win the award. I don’t even expect him to do much better than the top 5 finish he’s been averaging since 2010. Cabrera, Trout, and Davis will all finish above him based on the enormity of their numbers, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see guys like Josh Donaldson and Evan Longoria sneak ahead of Cano based on their team’s success. But what Robbie has done this year – replicating his always outstanding production without any support – shouldn’t be discounted, and in all honesty should be worth at least another top 3 finish.