As part of our preview for the upcoming 2013 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our third prediction: Yoenis Cespedes collects more MVP votes than Robinson Cano.
Robinson Cano has been one of the best hitters in baseball over past several years. His three year averages: .311/.370/.539, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 104 runs, and 5 sB. The 30/100/100 mark is a milestone and when someone averages that over three years in an increasingly pitching dominated era, it’s incredible. He has finished 3rd, 6th, and 4th in the MVP race in the past three years. It seems like any year now he is going to win it. Well, it’s not likely to be this year. Let me get this out there to start. In no way is this prediction based on the fact that Cano will be meaningfully worse this year, but the Yankees lineup is not going to be great this year and two of these stats depend in part on his teammates – RBIs and runs. In each case, Cano only contributes half of the contribution to the stat. I don’t think Cano will go over 100 in RBIs or runs this year. His average should maintain over .300 and the o/u on his HRs this year is probably 30. Still a great year, but it won’t stack up against his previous seasons.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin, Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes came to Oakland last year from Cuba. It was a bit of a surprise that Oakland spent on what was basically a free agent, but I suppose they saw more value than anyone else did. Cespedes’ rookie year was going great, certainly overshadowed by Mike Trout, but great nonetheless. However, he only got to play in 129 games last year due to a wrist injury. What could he have done with a full season? His 162 game averages were .292/.356/.505, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 88 runs, and 20 SB. Take a few counting stats off for a 158 games season and his numbers don’t look too far off of Cano except exchange some runs for some SB. Cespedes isn’t a young rookie, he’ll be entering his age 27 season this year. Cespedes has always been rated as plus raw power with speed to match so the 30 HR/20 SB averages aren’t too surprising. The .292 average to go with it is what can set him apart from the typical power/speed outfield type. In a season where the overall average with .260 you can count the guys on two hands who can hit for average, power and steal plenty of bases.
Part of this prediction is based on the fact that the MVP is voted on. It’s not a mathematical calculation of who had the best year. Although Cano possibly has the advantage of being in a bigger market, the media is national enough that Cespedes will get plenty of press, especially if Oakland comes close to their 2012 season. Another great year from Cespedes will be exciting as he is still relatively unknown to the casual fan and he could still have the “breakout” year narrative since last season was cut short by injury. I don’t think either of these guys will necessarily win the MVP, but we can count the votes at the end of the year. Check back to see if I’m brilliant or a complete idiot, or a little bit of neither.