Cody Ross dislocated his hip trying to beat out a ground ball at first base. It's likely the end of his season and could even mean his career. Giancarlo Stanton lost over a month of the season after suffering a grade 2 hamstring strain while trying to beat out a ground ball at first base. Then there was Derek Jeter, who pulled his quad and later his calf muscle while trying to beat out ground balls to first base. That seems like an awful lot to sacrifice while gaining so little.
You know who doesn't beat himself over a ground ball? Robinson Cano. You know who hasn't been on the disabled list since 2006? Robinson Cano. I know we live in a world where effort and grit are lauded by the national media, like Dustin Pedroia, and natural talent is dismissed as lazy, like Cano, but I'd rather have a player who can stay on the field than someone who plays so hard he hurts himself. Pedroia tore a ligament in his thumb sliding headfirst into first base on Opening Day this season. He was lucky enough to not need surgery, but he's missed nearly a month of playing time over the course of the season because of it.
If Cano were to suffer an injury like that it would be devastating to the 2013 Yankees, so I'm completely ok with the way Robinson Cano plays. He gets a lot of flak from fans and the media for being too lazy. If only he tried a little harder, if only he hustled, if only he gave all of his effort. A lot of times it amounts to people wanting to feel better about him grounding out, but he would have likely been out anyway. Everyone grounds out weakly to shortstop eventually, no matter how good they are, and there's really nothing anyone can do about it. Cano is no different and I'd rather he not pull something while trying to make people feel better about the bad result of his at-bat.
Are there times where he could have been safe if he got out of the box quicker? Of course, but Cano is hardly the only player this happens to and he's safely out at first much more often than he's out by a hair. Obviously serious injuries like Ross' or Stanton's or Jeter's are the worst of the worst, but base runners are still hurt running to first base more often than you might think.
I'd much rather he not even take the chance and simply understand when he's out. Robinson Cano's value isn't in trying to beat out infield singles, that's what you have Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki for, his value comes from hitting the ball with power so he can glide into second or trot around the bases. He's a smarter ballplayer than people give him credit for, even if he doesn't play into that whole Fox Sports culture of maximum effort all the time. Some players just don't have to sacrifice their bodies to provide value.