If you were to take a survey among Royals fans on who the team MVP for 2017 is, you’d probably see Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer as the most popular choices. Those guys definitely have arguments, as Moustakas made Royals history and Hosmer has been one of the better hitters in all of baseball for a large chunk of the season.
The guy I’ll fight for in this is Lorenzo Cain. He’s got my vote as the this squads most valuable player. And it is very numerous different reasons.
For a very streaky team, Lorenzo Cain has been a model for consistency, hitting at a steady rate throughout the year. Cain has only posted two months with a wRC+ under 100 (78 in May, 74 in July). We all remember the April Eric Hosmer had (51 wRC+) and Salvador Perez’ swoon (53 wRC+ in second half).
His worst month with batting average was May, when he hit .245. This was also his worst month for OBP, standing at .314.
The health from Cain has also been a huge bonus. Never the finest player when it comes to health. It’s been very different this year though, as Cain has played 140 of the 145 possible games so far.
Other than the season he finished third place in AL MVP voting, Cain is having the best season of his career at the plate. Here’s how it matches up with his career
- wRC+ (2nd)
- OBP (1st)
- wOBA (2nd)
- BB% (highest of his career)
- K% (lowest of his career)
His hard contact is up, he’s hitting the ball in the air more than ever. His plate discipline is at it’s finest moment. Improving your plate discipline while adding power at the same time is pretty impressive.
Look, Cain isn’t going to be a guy that blows you away with his bat. But... a player that provides a bat ranking 19th in Offensive WAR among outfielders along with elite defense and baserunning is pretty prized.
I don’t even need to say it. Cain is marvelous in center. Though he has taken a decline in some advanced metrics, Cain still remains one of the elite defensive outfielders in all of baseball. He’s still got a knack for the highlight reel catches, ranking 4th in baseball in Outs Above Average, according to Baseball Savant.
While we’re talking about how good he is in the field, let’s mention how at age 31 he is still among the fastest players in all of baseball. Also derived from Baseball Savant, Cain ranks 16th in Sprint Speed at 29.1 ft/sec. This obviously equates into him being a very useful player on the basepaths, with his BsR ranking in the top 5th of baseball .
I say all these things because for me, Cain is an intriguing player to watch the winter. Most likely, he will end up with the smallest payday among the Royals big three free agents due to age and injury history. This could come at value for someone, possibly the Royals.
I don’t know if resigning Cain is a safe move (haven’t had luck with giving aging outfielders contracts), but I do know he’s been darn good (and healthy) in a contract year.
2017 Royals MVP?
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