With the Kansas City Royals starting rotation featuring three flyball pitchers, outfield defense was expected to be an important factor in how the Royals fared this season. Fortunately, with Norichika Aoki, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, the Royals outfield defense may be the best in baseball.
While Gordon has received much of the attention over the past few years for his defensive exploits, winning three consecutive Gold Glove awards, Cain could end up in the same conversation. Already nominated for a Gold Glove last year despite playing only 92 games in center field due to injury, Cain is quickly earning a reputation as one of the better defensive centerfielders in the game today.
Seemingly every game, Lorenzo Cain has been flying around the outfield, making plays on balls that most other center fielders would not get to. The proof of that goes beyond the eyeball test, as, in the early going, Cain leads all American League outfielders with a 4.14 range factor, almost double the average for center fielders. In fact, his ability to track down fly balls caused Ned Yost to compare Cain with Andruw Jones.
“You know Andruw Jones had it. Andruw knew from the moment the ball was hit where the ball was going to be. Lorenzo Cain has that. It’s the ability to read a baseball off the bat and run really good routes to that spot to get you there as quick as you can,” Yost said.
Since Jones was one of the top center fielders in baseball from the late 1990’s through the middle of the last decade, winning ten consecutive Gold Glove awards, that is high praise indeed. If Cain is able to perform at that level defensively and remain healthy, there could be some hardware in his future.
Those of us who are fans of the Royals know how great of a defensive player Lorenzo Cain has become. With improved health this season, Cain could be recognized with his first Gold Glove.