Robinson Cano is one player that has lived up to his potential. It is easy to forget the small number of highly heralded youngsters that become stars. Even fewer have enduring careers.
Houston Street was the 2005 American League Rookie of the Year. He received 15 first place votes. Cano finished second by a wide margin, garnering four first place votes.
Whom would you rather have on your team for the 2012 season?
Johnny Gomes finished third, Tadahito Iguchi was fourth and Gustavo Chacin rounded out the top five.
In the National League, Ryan Howard won the Rookie of the Year award followed by Willy Taveras, Jeff Francoeur, Garrett Atkins and Zack Duke.
Among those players eligible for the 2005 Rookie of the Year award, Cano has had the second best career through the 2011 season, behind Ryan Howard.
Cano plays a more demanding position and strikes out less than Howard, but few players can match Howard’s home run power.
One player that made his major league debut in 2005 and might be more valuable than Cano is Felix Hernandez. King Felix appeared in 12 games and was immediately recognized as a future ace.
How does Cano compare with the best young players from 2006-11? He holds his own despite the fact that over the last six seasons, there have been some great major league additions.
The following presents the top rookies each season.
Verlander H. Ramirez
Johima J. Johnson
D. Young Tulowitzki
Matsuzaka C. Young
A. Ramirez Votto
A. Galarraga Bruce
A. Jackson Heyward
Valencia J. Garcia
W. Davis G. Sanchez
Boesch S. Castro
Nova W. Ramos
Concentrating only on position players, Dustin Pedroia of course, Evan Longoria, Alexi Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Aviles and Elvis Andrus are probably the best the American League has produced following 2005.
Cano holds his own with all of them. Team needs determine which player would be most valuable. Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Buster Posey are National Leaguers in Cano’s class.
No matter how one evaluates the position players, Cano is among the top 10 or 11 players that have debuted since 2005.
The feeling here is that none of the American Leaguers, including Pedroia, is quite as valuable as Cano.
In the Senior Circuit, Votto and Ryan Braun match Cano. A healthy Buster Posey is as valuable as anyone.
Time will tell how it shakes out, but the fact remains that Cano is the best New York Yankees rookie since the other member of the their keystone combination was the 1996 Rookie of the Year.