clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lorenzo Cain finishes third in AL MVP voting

New, comments

The most valuable Royal is the third most valuable player in the league.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After a summer of clutch hits and defensive web gems that made everyone giggle like idiots, Lorenzo Cain has finished third in the American League MVP voting.  The last time a Royal earned a spot on the MVP podium was George Brett's second place finish in 1985, the last year the Royals won the championship.  When it rains, it pours.

Royals fans have always recognized Cain's talent, but he made himself known to the general public during the 2014 playoffs.  He followed up his 2014 ALCS MVP performance with a 2015 season that saw him take his game to new levels in every way.  In 2015, Cain posted career highs in Home Runs (16), Batting Average (.307), On Base Percentage (.361), Slugging Percentage (.477) and WAR (6.6).  If they've invented any more stats since this was written, he probably set career highs in those too.

If it seemed like Cain was always getting his biggest hits in the biggest moments, it's because he was.  Cain finished fourth in the league in Fangraph's Clutch Score, a statistic that measures how well a player performed in important situations.  Cain also finished sixth in Win Probability Added, a statistic that measures how Lorenzo Cain's at bats affected his team's chances of winning over the course of a season.  Clutch hitting may not be repeatable, but it is valuable, and Lorenzo Cain did a lot of it.

Cain has struggled with nagging injuries through his career, but he managed to stay relatively healthy in 2015.  He set career highs in plate appearances and games played, even though he spent the season diving and jumping into walls as if he was playing in a bounce house.  When Cain hits well, he's a great player.  When Cain hits well and stays healthy, he's an MVP finalist.

The runner up for this year's award was Angels center fielder Mike Trout.  The reigning MVP did little to taint his legend in 2015.  Trout continued his evolution from speedster to slugger, hitting a career high 41 home runs while stealing a career low 11 bases.  He was worth 9.0 WAR this season, a season better than many Hall of Famers achieve in their careers, but his second worst.  His Angels missed the playoffs by one game.  Without him, they likely would have ended up with one of the worst records in the league.

When a once in a generation player has an MVP-caliber season, he's supposed to win the MVP.  Josh Donaldson messed up that plan.  Royals fans met Josh Donaldson as, "The guy who couldn't field Perez's game winning hit," got to know him as, "The angry dude with the bad hair," and now remember him as the best player on an ALCS losing team.  Donaldson had his own impressive year.  Like Cain, he paired elite defense with a great year at the plate and was worth 8.7 WAR, just shy of Trout's total.

While the top three get all the attention, some other Royals proved they made an impression on MVP voters.  Lorenzo Cain easily led all Royals with 20 third place votes, eight fourth place votes, a sixth place vote and a seventh place vote.  Kendrys Morales received a fourth place vote while Mike Moustakas received an eighth place vote, Eric Hosmer received two tenth place votes, and Wade Davis received his own tenth place vote.

It's fun to see Lorenzo Cain get recognized for the fantastic season he had, even though he finished last among the finalists.  The winner? Not on our team.  We beat him.