This Play Index study looked at the best single seasons by Yankee second-basemen. I wanted to see where Robinson Cano's 2010 ranked among the greats from the past like Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon and Willie Randolph.
The results show that Cano's season ranked seventh in Yankee history (via Wins Above Replacement, which, by the way, accounts for defense):
1. Joe Gordon, 1942
2. Snuffy Stirnweiss, 1945
3. Tony Lazzeri, 1929
4. Stirnweiss, 1944
5. Gordon, 1939
6. Willie Randolph, 1980
7. Cano, 2010
8. Randolph, 1978
9. Gordon, 1940
10. Lazzeri, 1927
A few things stand out immediately. The number of seasons from the World War 2 era: Three of the first four occurred during that time.
Although they were all tremendous seasons, we should take into account the lesser competition of the period. More than 1000 ballplayers served in the armed forces during WW2. That meant a watered down quality of play in those years.
If we eliminate those seasons, Cano's 2010 season jumps to fourth all-time and Lazzeri's ridiculous 1929 (.354/.429/.561) moves to first. This isn't to denigrate what Gordon and Stirnweiss did - only to put it into context and appreciate what guys like Lazzeri, Randolph and Cano did in their time.
You might notice that four players dominate the top of the list. The top 15 includes four seasons by Gordon and three each by Cano, Lazzeri and Randolph. The only other Yankee in the top 15 is Stirnweiss.
Cano is already among the top Yankee second-basemen ever. It will be fun to watch where he ends up.
Another interesting aspect to note are the ages. Of the top 30 seasons, all but three were in their 20's (and the others were only in their early 30's). Second-base is truly a young man's position.
How does the list sit with you?