From the NY Post:
Reggie Jackson’s belief that Robinson Cano has passed Dustin Pedroia as the premier second baseman in the American League isn’t simply Mr. October’s bias because he works for the Yankees.
“After this season he will be the best second baseman in the American League and then chase Chase [Utley],” Jackson told The Post. “He is a better player than Pedroia and I think Pedroia is a great player, an MVP.”
Jackson has company from the fraternity that scouts everything from tools to makeup.
The Post contacted six scouts and asked them who was better. Three clearly favored the sizzling Cano, another said it was close but went with Cano and while the fourth picked Pedroia, he admitted Cano was the better hitter. The sixth said Cano had better skills but Pedroia’s all-out effort every game made it a push.
I started this post to dispel the notion that Robbie is better, as I was certain that Pedroia has been the better player since he entered the league. However, I always try and go where the data takes me, and now I am not certain that a definitive evaluation can be made on this question. Here are the WAR numbers from baseballprojection.com, with Cano first and then Pedroia:
Using Fangraphs WAR gives a slightly different picture in 2009, with Pedroia edging Cano, but the general point holds true. Cano was better in 2007, they were about equal in 2009, and Pedroia was vastly superior in 2008. Cano also had solid seasons in 2005 and 2006 while Dustin was toiling in the minor leagues. Another important variable is the home road splits:
Cano Home: .307/.336/.485 wOBA: .350
Cano Road: .310/.345/.485 wOBA: .352
Pedroia Home: .326/.384/.501 wOBA: .382
Pedroia Road: .288/.354/.420 wOBA: .341
Cano does not have a noticeable split, while Pedroia clearly benefits greatly from playing in Fenway Park.
I think the choice between Cano and Pedroia hinges upon how heavily you weigh Pedroia’s lesser numbers on the road and Cano’s poor 2008. If you see 2008 as a fluke and consider the home-road splits to be vitally important to this analysis, then you will likely take Cano. If you believe that 2008 is indicative of Cano’s inconsistency and find that the splits are not that significant for a guy who is a pretty good player away from home, you will choose Pedroia. I’m torn on this, although if I was forced to make a choice, I would probably take Dustin. 2008 scares me a bit, and Pedroia is a slightly more well-rounded player. But a choice for Cano would be equally valid, and I’m sure I’ll vacillate on this one as their careers progress.
Who do you think is the better player? Why?