FG on Fox: Cano vs Pedroia

No one in baseball history has ever been better at closing out games than Mariano Rivera. Armed with an unhittable cut fastball and incredible command, Rivera cemented himself as a legend in New York, spending his entire career as a Yankee and becoming the first active player ever enshrined in Monument Park. His farewell ceremony last September was one of the most memorable moments in recent baseball history, but retirement hasn’t taken Rivera out of the spotlight just yet.

In an excerpt from his new book, appropriately entitled “The Closer,” Rivera comments on the active crop of second basemen; most notably, his long-time teammate Robinson Cano and his counterpoint Dustin Pedroia, star of the hated rivals up in Boston. While one might expect Rivera to side with his teammate, or simply to side with any player wearing the vaunted pinstripes, Rivera instead espouses affection for his rival.

“If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman,” Rivera noted.

Rivera is certainly familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of both players, but on-field greatness doesn’t always equate to a tremendous ability to build a roster; just ask anyone who has ever cheered for a basketball team built by Michael Jordan. So, with all due respect for Rivera’s experience, let’s see what the numbers have to say about Cano and Pedroia.

Read the rest at FoxSports.com



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Spit Ball
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Spit Ball
2 years 4 months ago

Congratulations on your expanded columns with Fox. You have most certainly earned it. Keep spreading the word.

Powder Blues
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Powder Blues
2 years 4 months ago

While I recognize that it’s a positive for Fangraphs the blog, it’s a negative for the readers. It takes me to a network I do not support, and it kills the fangraphs comment sections.

Kevin Towers
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Kevin Towers
2 years 4 months ago

Whiny baby.

I hate dissenting opinions
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I hate dissenting opinions
2 years 4 months ago

I’ll visit it twice just to offset your silly political bias …

Fangraphs could post on Mother Jones or the Huffington Post and I’d still visit despite their obvious and extreme political leanings.

Remus
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Remus
2 years 4 months ago

I’m guessing you root for a small market team and complain about the lack of a salary cap every day.

Brandon Gray
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Brandon Gray
2 years 4 months ago

Funny, I visit Fangraphs 10x a day and Fox 0x.

Boris Chinchilla
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Boris Chinchilla
2 years 4 months ago

agreed. there will be no “after the jump” for me, sorry Dave. Love your writing

Kevin Towers
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Kevin Towers
2 years 4 months ago

Queefing crybaby.

Westside guy
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Member
Westside guy
2 years 4 months ago

As a counterpoint, while I’ve started each story here… I have read the entirety of every “FanGraphs on Fox” story.

But it’s pretty funny that anyone would actually think the target audience for these particular stories is FanGraphs readers.

pcm4
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pcm4
2 years 4 months ago

What is the basis for attributing Pedroia’s home/road splits to the Green Monster? Pedroia has one of the lowest flyball rates in the league and obviously only a certain % of those flyballs end up being hits that “wouldn’t” have been hits in other parks. I don’t see how the effect can be that large. Certainly not large enough to explain the splits imo.

OhBeepy
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2 years 4 months ago

If you happen to browse the internets from your workplace with a shitty connection stuck in IE times, you would really dislike that they won’t post the article in it’s entirety here. I’m sure it’s some sort of non-competition clause in their agreement or something, but that dogshit site runs like horseshit on my cowshit computer and that is only one item of the myriad reasons I usually don’t read these full articles aside from whatever blurb gets posted on FG.

I understand the goal to get the writers here more pageviews and sets of eyeballs that might have otherwise not found more advanced analysis, but does it really have to go both ways? I’m already at FanGraphs, I know about it and love it and come here to read about baseball. What does Fox have to gain by increasing my hatred for them?

Umpire Weekend
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Umpire Weekend
2 years 4 months ago

Did you explain this to the IT folks at work? Maybe they can update the company browser so you can read the FanGraphs posts without all the hassle.

dl80
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dl80
2 years 4 months ago

Or use mobile Firefox on a flash drive.

frivoflava29
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frivoflava29
2 years 4 months ago

I’m on an mid-2011 Macbook Pro and even the video ads on Fangraphs will always cause my fans to whir like crazy using Chrome. Don’t get me started on Fox’s website though — speaking as a graphic artist with a pretty reasonable amount of experience in web design and particularly optimization, those ads hog an unnecessary amount of bandwidth and really bug me. I think us readers are allowed to feel bothered and alienated, especially considering Fangraphs has historically held itself to a better standard. But, then again, you won’t hear me complain again. It’s just, well, a little bit sad.

Rickey Henderson Sox
Member
Rickey Henderson Sox
2 years 4 months ago

I’ll take Pedroia and the $140M in salary savings over the next 10 years.

Justin Bailey
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Justin Bailey
2 years 4 months ago

As would any sane person, but the article is more focused on their ability rather than Pedroia’s willingness to sign a team-friendly contract or the stupefying behavior of Seattle’s front office.

Alec Wilson
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Alec Wilson
2 years 4 months ago

I haven’t read the book, but does Mo go through and mention every single player he would like at each position? Did Pedroia hit well against Mo (perhaps biasing him towards his performance?) Did Mo seem to show a preference for non-teammates or players that hit well against him?

waynetolleson
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waynetolleson
2 years 4 months ago

The numbers aren’t the point of all of this. If we’re going to look at the numbers, they’re very even, with Cano having a bit of an edge on offense and Pedroia having the edge defensively.

The point Rivera was making, which is actually the most obvious point in the world, is that Pedroia plays like every single game, inning, and play are of the utmost importance. Cano takes plays off. If there’s a ball trickling past him into the outfield, maybe he’ll dive for it, maybe he won’t. Yesterday, I saw Cano hit into a double play. At first, I thought the shortstop wasn’t even trying to turn two, but he was actually running seven feet out of the baseline to make the throw easier because Cano was jogging. Like many times, there was no expression in his visage that he really cared whether or not he made it to first and the inning continued.

If you’re trying to lock-down a save, which type of player would you rather have behind you?

Nate
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Nate
2 years 4 months ago

The better defender? So, Pedroia? I don’t believe that’s the same question at hand.

waynetolleson
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waynetolleson
2 years 4 months ago

You’d want the better defender, but you also want people behind you who you feel are going to give maximum effort on every play. Pedroia is much more that type of player than Cano.

That’s really what the story is here, not numbers.

Kevin
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Kevin
2 years 4 months ago

I think the “max effort” cannard makes more sense in a season long scenario.
Is there any evidence that Cano ever dogged it in an important spot? It seems he tended to dog it when things didn’t matter as much. Presumably in the “one game” Mo is talking about, there is something at stake…and I just don’t see any evidence that in those types of games this silly complaint about Cano even comes in to play.

Value arb
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2 years 4 months ago

Except that Pedroia’s passion is sitting on the bench for over 20 games a year while Cano has played almost every game over the last 8 years.

pcm4
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pcm4
2 years 4 months ago

Pedroia missed a little under half the season in 2010 and 20 games in 2012. Other than that he has basically played 155+ games every season. You might try acquainting yourself with some facts.

Kevin
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Kevin
2 years 4 months ago

“Other than 25% of seasons in question, Pedroia is just as healthy as Cano.”

pcm4
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pcm4
2 years 4 months ago

Learn to read. I never said Pedroia was as healthy as Cano. I said he hasn’t missed 20 games every season due to injury like this guy is implying.

Ernie14
Member
Ernie14
2 years 4 months ago

FanGraphs has no way of measuring the “passion” part of the equation — ergo you guys simply leave it out of the equation. Pedroia and players like him have a way of firing up their teammates to reach for another level of focus and effort, which is what Rivera is referring to. Love me some FanGraphs, but it’s not just about the numbers.

Hawk Harrelson
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Hawk Harrelson
2 years 4 months ago

That’s what I’ve been trying to tell them!

Value arb
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2 years 4 months ago

It’s pretty hard for the Mighty Midget to fire up teammates from the bench in the 200+ games he’s missed.

Cano may not bust out a sprint trying to beat out the 1 in 100 easy grounder that gets muffed, but he also plays 161 games a year by not pulling hamstrings or jamming fingers sliding head first into first base.

What Cano did do was beat all his teammates in to the weight room every day and work harder than them, but a 1 inning reliever who lolligags in much later wouldn’t know that, or whether it motivated his teammates.

arc
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arc
2 years 4 months ago

“It’s pretty hard for the Mighty Midget to fire up teammates from the bench in the 200+ games he’s missed.”

I suspect his teammates – and everyone who has ever been in a dugout with him – would disagree with this.

But like me, they’ll defer to your infinite insight.

dang
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dang
2 years 4 months ago

Paul, so what you’re saying is that Pedroia himself could have an impact on the players around him

so it’s still a measurable – red sox with pedroia and red sox without pedroia.

Boom it’s all about numbers baby

Iccyh
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Iccyh
2 years 4 months ago

I read most everything on here, but so long as I’m on my laptop I’m going to have to give up anything that’s on the Fox site. It is really jarring to go from the nice, clean, quick, and legible Fangraphs site over to the cluttered Fox site where my browser grinds to a near halt trying to render the page, resulting in crushing input lag; trying to scroll down to actually read the article is painful.

I give up.

dl80
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dl80
2 years 4 months ago

But you are missing out on some really insightful comments over there.

jp
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jp
2 years 4 months ago

Maybe Cano and Pedroia’s road/home splits hint at a way to more accurately apply park effects. My understanding is that each park’s effects on offense are applied equally to all hitters. So if the Green Monster inflates offense overall, we discount a lefty pull hitter’s offense as much as a righty pull hitter. That makes sense as far as measuring how many wins a player’s offense produces, but it doesn’t make sense as far as measuring actual skill. Fenway likely helps Pedroia more than David Ortiz.

Folks used to argue, wrongly, that if Jeter played in KC, he’d be just another guy. But if Pedroia were out there, he really might be just another good, but not great, player.

james wilson
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james wilson
2 years 4 months ago

Rivera may be saying that you can’t measure attitude, but that doesn’t mean it is without value. I have to think Cano affects the clubhouse very differently than Pedroia. Significantly, because this was a snub, no getting around it.

No question but that Cano is the greater talent. He seems to be one of those players who is so good he doesn’t bother himself to maximize it, and Pedroia will always be around to reflect the truth of that.

bookbook
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bookbook
2 years 4 months ago

“He seems to be one of those players who is so good he doesn’t bother himself to maximize it”

Yeah, but Cano wasn’t exactly born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was a fair, not great, prospect who managed to turn himself into a superstar. He isn’t Rex Hudler, or Eric Davis (or Bryce Harper), but the coasting on talent lazy guy narrative really doesn’t seem to fit.

dang
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dang
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t understand comments saying that the fox web site crashes their computer

just upgrade from your packard bell

Garret
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Garret
2 years 4 months ago

I remember the same thing said about a guy like Garrett Anderson. He never seemed to be actually trying. Didn’t raise his voice. People mistook that for a lack of passion.

It can be great to have those guys around you who fire up the rest of the team but not everyone can fulfill that role. Too many of those guys and the clubhouse falls a part.

Ryan Mann
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Ryan Mann
2 years 4 months ago

Good article. One point of contention, however: Even if the game was played at Fenway, Cano has posted better offensive numbers there than Pedroia has. In 79 games, Cano has a .338/.383/.558 slash line, compared with Pedroia’s .317/.382/.494. (These are career numbers, not just last 3 years.) At a cursory glance, it looks like the main argument: Cano’s superior offense outweighs Pedroia’s superior defense applies at Fenway as well.

Also, everyone stop complaining about FanGraphs on Fox. It’s good for them, therefore it’s good for us readers.

Truth
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Truth
2 years 4 months ago

Fangraphs has to do what they have to do to expand business but I don’t do anything FOX. You guys do good work though all the same.

Kevin Towers
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Kevin Towers
2 years 4 months ago

LAME. Do you also only drink soy milk? Queefer.

Powder Blues
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Powder Blues
2 years 4 months ago

You must have migrated over from the FOX comment section. Quality stuff.

Ernie14
Member
Ernie14
2 years 4 months ago

Dang — But even without Pedroia on the field, he’s still with them in the clubhouse, etc., doing his firey thing. So, you, know, boom back.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

Dustin Pedroia has averaged 5.05 WAR per 150 games in his career. Cano has averaged 4.003 per 150 games. That’s a pretty substantial difference. Maybe one can argue Cano is better now, or over the last few years, but Pedroia has been a better player if one looks at their whole body of work.

One could argue that Cano has stayed healthier, although that may just be a fluke, really just half a season Pedroia missed one year and 20 games another. Cano also had a stint on the DL in 2006, so basically it’s just been one injury that separates the 2.

But assuming Rivera meant one game when each were healthy, Pedroia has the better WAR per game played. It’s about a 25% difference.

If you took Pedroia’s WAR and averaged it over 140 games played per year, he’s at 4.7 per 140. Cano’s career WAR averaged over 160 would be 4.3.

Of course using their whole career’s penalizes Cano for a sub-par, for him, season or 2 early on, but Pedroia also gets dinged for a bad cup of coffee, playing through the bad thumb, etc.

They’ve both been extremely good. Overall, Pedroia has been better. And I’m not even going to get into the other stuff Rivera brings up, but presumably he has played with and against these guys and knows what he knows, quantifiable or not.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

If you just went with the last 3 year’s numbers and add what they have done so far this year, Pedroia averages 5.58 WAR per 150 and Cano 5.69. Pretty damn close.

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 4 months ago

And it’s not like Pedroia has been injured at all over the last 3 years! And it’s not like staying healthy has any value, anyway!

Cliff
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Cliff
2 years 4 months ago

But Rivera said for one game, not for a whole career

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

Pedroia has averaged 153 games per year the last 3 years. Not like he’s missing games like Carlos Quentin every year.

Remus
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Remus
2 years 4 months ago

What about having this conversation 3 years from now? Cano just moved to a Grand Canyon of a park, and Pedroia’s offensive numbers have been on a steady decline.

Matt Provenzano
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Matt Provenzano
2 years 4 months ago

The stats measured are adjusted for park, so going to Safeco doesn’t make his WAR or wRC+ decline.

Remus
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Remus
2 years 4 months ago

True, but it may affect his approach.

Cool Lester Smooth
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2 years 4 months ago

Lol, the entire point of the article was that wRC+ can’t fully account for park differences.

Squishmytomato
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Squishmytomato
2 years 4 months ago

for some reason as i read this article lupe fiasco’s “dumb it down” was playing in my head

cs3
Member
cs3
2 years 4 months ago

How can you post this article without quoting the relevant passage? Nobody can make an intelligent comment on what Mo means, without first reading *what he actually wrote*

so for those who want to know what he really says about Cano:
“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start… There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best… You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
Thats not saying Cano is a worse player than Pedroia. Its saying that Cano is more talented, but just doesnt give as much effort as Mo feels he could.

and on Pedroia he writes:
“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for twenty-seven outs. It’s a special thing to see.”

Nowhere has anyone quoted Rivera saying that he thinks Pedroia is a better hitter, or a better overal player. He says he prefers him over any other second baseman and its pretty clearl that its because he gives max effort every game, 100% of the time, adn alos happens to be very talented himself.

C’mon Dave, don’t be like all the other boring writers and radio hosts who are making this into an a ridiculous argument that Rivera never made.
Mo may have taken a slight shot at Cano’s work ethic, but you certainly certainly never showed where he explicitly says that Pedroia is a better hitter or overall player.

cs3
Member
cs3
2 years 4 months ago

And to be clear, Im not saying you are bashing Rivera.
Im saying that if you are going to cite his book to start a discussion about Cano vs Pedroia, then why dont you focus on the thing that Rivera is actually talking about? That thing being worth ethic and drive.

Obviously work ethic is not something Fangraphs can quantify, which leads me to ask teh question “why write this article at all?”

fwiw I tend to believe that Rivera was not even purposely taking a shot at Cano, but is more just being totally honest about who he would rather have play behind him.

LK
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LK
2 years 4 months ago

Mo wrote a book where he insulted a former teammate’s work ethic, lauded the work ethic of a rival who plays the same position as that teammate, and said he’d “have a hard time” passing up the rival if he had to pick one player at that position to win a single game. No, he didn’t put “Pedroia rules, Cano droolzzzzzzzzz” in the book, but that doesn’t mean can’t make inferences about what he wrote. Rivera knew exactly how those passages would be interpreted, and if he didn’t, it’s his own fault.

cs3
Member
cs3
2 years 4 months ago

Ok assume he did mean to shit on Cano. Thats reasonable I suppose.

In that case, again, I ask why write an article about the on field metrics of Cano vs Pedroia when its totally obvious that its a personal issue with Cano?

Or even if it was not intended to be a shot at Cano, its still pretty clear that Mo’s preference for Pedroia had absolutely nothing to do with his relative skill level and talent as compared with Cano.

And finally, why write an article without even quoting any of the relevant passages?
Dave would lead us to believe that Rivera wrote something along the lines of “Pedroia is a better baseball player than Cano” or “Cano sucks at baseball”

Inappropriate Political Discourse
Guest
Inappropriate Political Discourse
2 years 4 months ago

All of your questions can be summed up in one word:
Pageviews

Inappropriate Political Discourse
Guest
Inappropriate Political Discourse
2 years 4 months ago

Rather the answer to those questions, obviously

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Yeah, Mo’s point was something closer to “Obviously, Cano’s better at baseball, but I’d rather have Pedroia on my team.”

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

Cool, I don’t see how the point could have been closer to “obviously Cano is better at baseball” when over their careers Pedroia has a higher WAR per game, substantially, than Cano, and even if one just looks at 2011 through thus far in 2014, their WAR’s per game are nearly identical, and the only real distinguishing factor in that time is Pedroia missed 20 games 2 years ago. At best I’d say Cano is equal, in which case I think Rivera is well within the realm of the sane to suggest he’d prefer the guy he perceives as giving effort at all times.

RaceFinisher
Member
RaceFinisher
2 years 4 months ago

I wonder if certain players feast on average pitching but aren’t as good against elite starters? Obviously I’d wonder who are the players that do
better against top grade hurlers…has there ever been an article on such
a thing?

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

AAAA hitters

Billy
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Billy
2 years 4 months ago

Yes, Vince Genaro has done a study on this. He did it to explain why some players are perceived to be better post season hitters, theorizing that guys who have more even performance against all calibers of pitcher hit better in the postseason than guys who clobber bad pitchers but struggle against good ones, since the postseason sees less bad pitchers.

The data supported it, with guys like Jeter and Molina (and generally higher contact types by my observation) having less drop off against good pitching, while strikeout prone sluggers (e.g. Hamilton, Bruce, Granderson) feasted on weaker pitchers while struggling against good ones.

Garrett
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Garrett
2 years 4 months ago

This reminds of the best SS in the NL East a few years back. Lotta discussion about the 2nd/3rd best ignoring the true best 2B of the era.

PackBob
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PackBob
2 years 4 months ago

It’s a slippery slope when you try to equate personality to performance. Gung-ho works great for some guys. For other guys whose personality doesn’t match that approach, trying to play that way could easily be detrimental.

A player saying he really, really, really, really, really wants to win doesn’t make him a better player than someone else who just says he would like to win.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t think Rivera is equating personality with performance. He himself is hardly the ra ra type. He isn’t claiming that Pedroia’s mouthing of platitudes makes him a better player. And I’m going to have to repeat, by the very metrics this site popularizes to take a players overall performance and translate it into one stat, Pedroia has been better over his career on a 150 game basis than Cano, and it’s by the order of a win per 150 games, 25% higher. Even over the last 3 seasons and part of this one, it is roughly equal. Given the two are roughly equal, and that Rivera has played against one many times and with the other for many years, I think it makes complete sense for Rivera to use as a deciding factor consistent effort.

Probably too much e-ink spilled on the subject. Cano is a great player who plays every game every year. My main point is with people who would argue he’s so much better than Pedroia regardless of the effort involved by either. WAR simply does not suggest that Cano is significantly better. Recently, they are so close it is probably just a a matter of preference for how your teammate plays, which is personal.

maqman
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maqman
2 years 4 months ago

From the start of the 2009 season through today Pedroia accumulated 26.1 fWAR and Cano has totaled 29.7

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 4 months ago

Pedroia had a better per game WAR than Cano in that stretch, .0361 to .0356 (5.42 WAR per 150 to 5.34). Very slightly. Yeah, Pedroia missed half of 2010. Injuries count.

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