At the beginning of the season, if asked who the Royals best hitter would be heading into June, most of the guesses would likely have involved Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer or Salvador Perez. Given Butler’s track record, and the hopes that we all had for Hosmer and Perez this season, any of the three would have been a reasonable guess. Instead, Butler has struggled throughout much of this season and Hosmer has started the season off slowly.
While Perez is presently second on the Royals in OPS+ at 101, the team leader heading into last night’s game against the Houston Astros happens to be Lorenzo Cain. Cain, who has produced a .301/.354/.379 batting line with six extra base hits in his 103 at bats this season, presently leads the Royals with a 102 OPS+. Right now, the Royals have exactly three regulars who have an OPS+ of 100 or better in their lineup, despite 100 being considered average.
Throughout his career, Cain has been a relatively productive hitter while on the field, putting together a .270/.322/.380 batting line with 13 home runs. Cain is unlikely to ever be much of an extra base threat, typically using his speed for doubles and triples. That has reflected in his career OPS+ of only 91, which is an indication of his offensive prowess.
There are many things that Lorenzo Cain can provide. Cain is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, someone who may end up winning a Gold Glove award if he can remain healthy. His excellent speed not only serves him well in the outfield, but also on the basepaths where he has been successful in 83.7% of his stolen base attempts. Yet, while Cain is certainly a solid player, there are just some things that he should not be expected to be. Being the best hitter in the Royals lineup is definitely one of them.
Eventually, hopefully, the Royals lineup will begin to produce. Hopefully, Eric Hosmer will heat up and Billy Butler will get back to being Billy Butler. If that happens, then Cain having the highest OPS+ on the team on May 26th (as this article is being written) will just be an interesting footnote. Otherwise, if Cain remains the Royals best hitter on the season, that would just be a microcosm of what has been, up to this point, a punchless offense.
Lorenzo Cain is a valuable player for the Royals. He just should not be their best hitter.