(Photo used courtesy of The AP)
Pretty much a no-brainer here. Cano put up an incredible .400/.436/.765 line in April complete with 5 2Bs, 8 HRs, 18 RBIs, and 21 runs scored, basically shouldering the load for the Yankee offense that had its 2 primary horses (Teix and The A-Horse) bringing up the rear of the field (you like that Derby metaphor? Yeah you do). For all the questions about whether or not Cano was the right guy to step into the 5-spot in the lineup this year, the questions should have been directed more towards just how astronomical Cano's numbers would be, even as much of his supporting cast (minus Jeter, Jorge, and Gardner) struggled for much of the month.
Cano's play in the field has been equally on par with his scorching bat. His range to both sides of the field seems better than in years past and his cannon of an arm has already lead to more than one "Holy Shit!!" play this season. The general opinion on Cano's defense now seems to finally be shifting from "lazy" to "smooth" and his laser rocket arm is now getting its just due from the mainstream media as being a legitimate weapon in his defensive arsenal rather than something used to mask his deficiencies in fielding his position.
Most importantly, and almost certainly the cause for the statistical results, is the change in Cano's mental approach to the game this year. There was concern that Robbie losing his buddy, Melky Cabrera, could be a problem. Instead Cano has thrived in his new role. I would not be so simple as to suggest it's because his wingman is gone; I think this season came down to Cano finally deciding to grow up and dedicate himself to the game and take the next step towards becoming the player everybody has said he's capable of being as he heads into his prime. He is more patient and cerebral in his approach at the plate and his focus and reaction time in the field is as good as it's ever been.
While it's unlikely Cano will keep these numbers up over the long haul, he certainly can be expected to maintain the overall All Star-level of play he has shown so far. Cano has established himself as a legit MVP candidate, has bypasses Dustin Pedroia as the best 2B in the AL, and with Teix and A-Rod hopefully turning the corner this month, he will continue to have opportunities to put up huge numbers moving forward.
Yankee Pitcher of The Month- Andy Pettitte
(Photo used courtesy of The AP)
In a month where every Yankee pitcher not named Javier Candyass Bitch Vazquez pitched like an ace to the tune of a 12-1 combined record with a 2.48 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 91 Ks in 120 IP, it should have been a tough choice, but when you factor in age the winner has to be Andy Pettitte.
The old goat can still get it done, huh? He may have come into the season expecting this to be his last, but it's clear that he still has plenty of good baseball in him.
In 5 April starts, Pettitte was 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 34 IP. His stuff has been sharper than expected and at this stage in his career he has mastered the art of pitching mentally over physically. Pettitte has used repertoire of pitches like a Crayola 64 box of crayons, dialing up anything at any time and throwing it anywhere in or out of the zone to keep hitters off balance and dictate the pace of the game, despite no longer having what most baseball analysts would call great "stuff." In 4 starts against teams with above-average offenses (at least on paper), Andy was 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA, and his 8-inning, 1-run, 8-K performance against the Angels on 4/24 was just a thing of sheer beauty. Shit, even his one "bad" start this past Friday (6 IP, 7 H , 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 k, ND) was something that most pitchers would be OK with, especially when it ended in his team getting the W.
Now like Cano, it would be insane to expect Pettitte to keep this pace up over the long haul this year. He is old, by any professional sports standards, and still remains an injury risk. But he has re-established himself as a premiere pitcher in baseball and continues to develop more of that Maddux/Glavine-ish-ness to his game that makes him difficult for teams to prepare for. He can change his approach game to game, inning to inning, or batter to batter, and that constantly-changing, amorphous approach, combined with what has been biting off-speed stuff and a sneaky fastball has him back at the top of the AL pitching food chain.