Is New York Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano an odd choice to be part of the four-man team representing the American League in Monday night's 2011 All-Star Home Run Derby? At a glance, you would have to say yes.
SB Nation baseball columnist Rob Neyer certainly thinks so.
Whilecertainly ranks among the American League's best players, he might seem like an odd choice for the American League's Home Run Derby squad, because ... Well, let's just be honest about this thing: Robinson Cano is an odd choice.
Cano's never hit 30 home runs in a season. This season he got off to a wonderful start, with eight homers in April ... but Cano's got only seven since then, and looks like he might hit 25-30 again this season. This doesn't mean he's not a great hitter. It does mean he's not a great home-run hitter ... Which is, the last time we checked, the No. 1 (if unofficial) qualification for participating in Home Run Derby.
We know Ortiz wanted Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira, who has 25 homers and turned him down. For whatever reason, Josh Hamilton of Texas and Ortiz could not get together on Hamilton's participation. So, Cano is in. Cano hit 25 home runs in 2009, 29 a season ago and has 15 thus far in 2011. He is not a 40-50 home run per year guy. He isn't Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder or David Ortiz.
He is, however, one of baseball's best pure hitters. I don't watch Cano in batting practice every day, but he does have tremendous power. It will be interesting to see what he does when he only has home runs on his mind.