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An ode to Lorenzo Cain’s defense

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He once again seeks the (not so) coveted Gold Glove

Arizona Diamondbacks Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

As the the World Series rages on, Kauffman Stadium remains quiet. In reality, it may be a bit loud at Kauffman, but metaphorically speaking, it’s quiet. There is no more baseball to be played and the offseason has yet to begin, making Royals news a bit of a ghost town.

Today, Royals fans were given some relief, with the Gold Glove Award finalists being announced yesterday. As we have come to expect, the list was littered with the usual suspects from Kansas City. Salvador Perez is the four-year incumbent for the catchers position and seems the most likely to take home any hardware.

On merit alone, Alex Gordon seems like the best candidate as he seeks his first Gold Glove since 2014. In a year marred by struggles at the plate, Gordon put together a resurgent defensive campaign and at a weak position, he’s got a good shot. Eric Hosmer also looks to get reclaim his crown from Mitch Moreland, who dethroned Hosmer last season.

And then there is Lorenzo Cain.

Of the four Royals’ candidates, Cain is without a doubt the least likely to win. Center field is stacked in the American League, with the favorite Byron Buxton leading the way and Kevin Pillar not far behind him. If we’re being honest, Cain doesn’t have a great shot.

We can hope for a 2013 Brandon Flowers situation, in which Flowers was snubbed from the Pro Bowl for the duration of his prime with the Chiefs, only to be allowed in after his last (and worst) season as a Chief. Lorenzo should have a Gold Glove award to put next to his ALCS MVP trophy and it should already be there. But the point still remains.

Lorenzo Cain should have a Gold Glove award in his trophy case.

And while that is unlikely to happen, we should still pause for a second and reminisce on just how good Lorenzo Cain was in center field. It should be noted that reminiscing on how good Lorenzo Cain is in centerfield is my second favorite thing to reminisce about. Talking about how ridiculously dominant Jarrod Dyson was in centerfield is still my favorite. But I digress.

If Cain wins a Gold Glove this season, it will be a fantastic and well deserved accomplishment, but it will not make his being snubbed in 2014 any less blasphemous. Cain trailed only Gordon for the AL lead in defensive runs saved among outfielders (22) and was third in the league in plays made out of zone (95).

To give you some perspective, Adam Jones went onto win the award in place of Cain in 2014 with three (3) DRS in over 200 more innings played than Cain. In fact, all of his competition (Jackie Bradley Jr., Adam Eaton, and Jones) finished with a combined 29 DRS, outpacing Cain by just seven as a group. And oh yeah, just in case you noticed that there are three men listed above, you are correct.

Lorenzo Cain wasn’t even a finalist.

If you want to go ahead and just @ the Rawlings twitter account and yell at a helpless Twitter intern with no pull in the voting about this injustice three years after the fact, I won’t think any less of you. In fact, I might just @ that account in the tweet for this article.

Somehow in 2015, Cain got better, knotching 115 plays made out of zone and improving his Fangraphs defensive rating. Unfortunately, he ran into the defensive buzzsaw that was Kevin Kiermaier that season, who put up arguably the best defensive campaign in baseball history, with a ridiculous 42 DRS.

And we haven’t even mentioned Cain’s 2013 campaign, when he paced all American League outfielders not named Shane Victorino in DRS, UZR and defensive rating while playing just 115 games. Had Lorenzo played a full season in 2013, it may well have been his best season. It also gave us one of his most memorable catches. Don’t forget to peep the Miguel Tejada appearance at the end of that video.

2016 was injury riddled and led into 2017, which was arguably his worst as a defender, with his 3.5 defensive rating being the lowest full season mark of his career. He did, however, lead all outfielders in plays made out of zone with 136.

So who knows. Maybe Lorenzo will get the Brandon Flowers treatment. Given how electrifying Byron Buxton was this season, that seems unlikely, and rightfully so. In fact, I think the award would carry more weight if it was much less political and much more about what players spent the season making our jaws dropped.

Regardless of if he wins, we will always have 2014 Lorenzo Cain. That Lorenzo Cain was just about the best centerfielder we have ever watched.