Derek Jeter was in a race for 3,000. Mariano Rivera for 600. Long-term records for longtime vets.
Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano were in a race of their own — for the American League MVP.
Neither is necessarily a favorite to win, but as Yankee offensive MVPs, they would be the obvious choice.
Granderson went from having a previous career high of 30 home runs and 74 RBI to shattering both marks — with 41 and 119.
“I don’t like feel like I’m any different than I have been in the past,” Granderson said. “I’ve always wanted to do a little bit of everything and not too much of one thing.”
Granderson’s numbers have dwarfed those of the old core of this Yankees team. Jeter and Jorge Posada were pushed into the background as complementary pieces.
Dating back to August 2010, when Granderson eliminated most of the movement in his swing, he has slugged 55 home runs, knocked in 153 runs and scored 162 runs.
Even with those gaudy numbers, Granderson does not believe he is not a home run hitter.
“I’m not really too sure,” Granderson said. “I’m not sure if it’s a number thing. When I hear of certain guys there is no question and doubt those guys are home run hitters — Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista and David Ortiz. There’s just something that’s different about them than me when you describe yourself against those guys.”
All Cano has done is bat .300 with at least 25 home runs three years in a row. Probably the biggest difference between now and Cano’s early years is production in clutch categories, which is why he will hit third in the playoffs. Cano batted .303 with men on, .318 with runners in scoring position and an astounding .444 with the bases loaded.
“He’s a totally different guy [now],” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s learned to relax in those spots, learned how to drive in multiple runs when there’s multiple guys on. He’s grown leaps and bounds.”
Another big example of Cano’s consistency is looking at his monthly numbers. He has hit over .300 in every month but May and rebounded by hitting .303, .311 and .345 from June to August. He hit .345 in August while hitting cleanup due to Alex Rodriguez’s absence with a knee injury. Now, Cano is more feared than Rodriguez.
Five years ago, Detroit manager Jim Leyland described the Yankees as “Murderers Row and Cano.”
Now, Cano and Granderson will lead the Murderers Row into another postseason matchup with Leyland’s Tigers.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher throughout the playoffs.