Lorenzo Cain, I Owe You An Apology


Back in February, I put together a piece on what I thought Lorenzo Cain‘s regression would look like in 2014.

In what was my first article here at Kings of Kauffman, I could not have been more wrong and for that, I apologize.

I apologize to both the All-Star himself, and to the many fans that stood up for him in my comment section back in February.

Cain’s impressive 2014 campaign was aided by a ridiculous .380 BABIP, which compensated for his inability to hit the ball in the air consistently, and was the root of my doubt.

For 2015, Cain entered his age 29 season on the wrong side of the age curve, having never showed the ability to hit for any consistent power.

He was also coming off a season where he walked just 4% of his plate appearances and struck out in over 21% of those plate appearances.

My concern for a 29-year old progressing off a BABIP dependent breakout season was seemingly valid.

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Having never played baseball before his sophomore year of high school, Cain’s elite athleticism helped him get to the big leagues as his baseball skill set still developed.

That skill set was still not fully developed in 2014 and, despite the breakout season, his prolonged development had carried him into the wrong side of the age curve.

My logic was that Cain had missed his shot at developing into a legitimate hitter, simply because he had passed that age curve and baseball generally isn’t forgiving of players once they pass said curve (see Billy Butler).

Using that logic, I didn’t see Cain sustaining the success he had as a hitter in 2014 because I didn’t see him evolving anymore as a hitter.

However, Cain completely proved me wrong, not by sustaining his 2014 success, but by enjoying brand new success in 2015.

Cain had 24 total walks in 2014 and going into the break in 2015, he already has 22. As a result, Cain carries a .373 OBP into the break, good for 11th best in the AL.

Cain also enters the break with eight home runs, three more than his 2014 total, and 31 total extra-base hits, just seven shy of his 2014 total.

The power production has stemmed from his ability to hit the ball in the air in 2015, with both his line drive percentage and fly ball percentage increasing pair with his ground ball percentage dropping from 51% to 47%.

And just a few more numbers for good measure, Cain has seen a 113 point OPS increase, a 4% decrease in strikeout percentage, and a 65 point ISO increase, all despite his BABIP dropping by 16% in 2015.

Oh, and his 4.0 fWAR is already approaching his impressive 4.9 fWAR from 2015.

If Lorenzo Cain can stay healthy and continue to produce at this level, he will be a six-win player in 2015 and it isn’t unreasonable to think he could be a seven-win player.

Fangraphs distinguishes  an fWAR of 5-6 is a superstar range, while anything above six being that of a potential MVP.

So I was wrong. And I have never been happier to call myself an idiot.

Lorenzo Cain has not regressed in 2015. He has progressed into a superstar.

Next: Royals Pursuing Johnny Cueto