The KC Royals began September with expectations of pulling into the playoff race. They had just completed a 19-9 August and had a favorable finishing schedule in September. The only fly in the ointment was outfielder Lorenzo Cain hurt his wrist in an August 30 defeat to the Yankees.
In many ways, that August 30 game against New York proved to be a disaster for the Kansas City Royals. Not only did they lose in extra innings after overcoming a 4-0 deficit, they also lost Lorenzo Cain to a wrist injury while swinging at a pitch in the eighth inning.
Cain fnished out the game in the outfield; but, he didn’t play the next day as his wrist swelled. A doctor’s exam showed that the wrist wasn’t broken. Cain took cortisone shots to try to help the injury heal. He played on September 9, but later said the he was effectively swinging with one arm.
Cain hasn’t played since, and appears he will shut it down for the rest of the 2016 season.
Oh, yeah, in the same game, Joakim Soria surrendered his first run in 11 appearances while giving up the lead in the 10th inning. Soria went on to blow four more leads in September, and hasn’t found his footing since.
Royals Are A Losing Team Without Cain In The Lineup
Lorenzo Cain’s injury has proved to be a crippling blow to the Kansas City Royals. KC is 58-45 with Cain in the lineup and 20-30 without. Overall, Kansas City is 8-11 in September. That’s a pretty stark difference. The KC Royals scored an average of 4.17 runs per game with Cain, and a mere 3.98 runs per game without him.
That doesn’t look like a huge drop-off. But, it’s the difference between a team that could score just enough runs per game to win, and one that has suffered a string of one run defeats in September. The KC Royals went 2-7 in one run games since Cain’s August 30 injury.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that Cain’s sore wrist cost the Kansas City Royals a playoff berth; but, it certainly didn’t help. He’s been worth 2.7 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference in the 2016 season. Add another 50 games and he was on pace for close to 4.0 bWAR season. Cain was also on pace to produce another 0.8 bWAR over his last 30 games.
Throw in Mike Moustakas only producing 0.8 WAR in 2016 after a 4.4 WAR season in 2015, and the KC Royals took quite a hit between those two injuries. Alex Gordon has also struggled after breaking his wrist on May 23 (.217/.315/.378, 0.6 bWAR). Add it all up and you find most of the five wins that the Royals trail the Orioles for the AL’s second wild card.
Let’s not even talk about Joakim Soria and Ned Yost’s bullpen choices. I want to keep down my lunch.