Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will Lorenzo Cain Bounce Back Or Is He A Forgettable Option?

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Remember when Lorenzo Cain was viewed as one of the better outfielders in the league? That simply may no longer be the case, as his numbers regressed across the board in 2019:

562 At Bats
.260 Batting Average (146 Hits)
11 Home Runs
48 RBI
75 Runs
18 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.372 Slugging Percentage
.301 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Cain has never been a significant source of power, with 16 HR being his career high. Sure home runs were up across the game in ’19, but thinking he’d stray away from what he is would be misguided. He owns a career 8.7% HR/FB and for the second straight season posted a fly ball rate below 25% (23.0% in ’18, 24.1% in ’19). The power simply isn’t going to be there.

The bigger concern is the regression in both his average and stolen bases. At 33-years old (he’ll turn 34 in April of ’20), is it a surprise that his speed may be regressing? He was never a pure burner, with 30 SB being a career best (though, coincidentally, that came in ’18), so any loss of a step is going to have a significant impact on his perceived value. Considering he didn’t steal more than 5 bases in any month in ’19 (he stole 5 in June), and struggles to a 66.67% success rate in the second half (8-for-12), that appears to be exactly where we are.

Without power he’s going to rely on his speed in order to maintain an elevated BABIP and carry a strong average. While he does use the entire field (32.4% Oppo%) and shows a good approach (7.8% SwStr%, 28.0% O-Swing%), with these other metrics it’s not really enough:

  • Hard% – 36.5%
  • Groundball Rate – 50.2%

So he’s not hitting the ball hard and putting it routinely on the ground, so if he can’t beat those out the BABIP is going to be limited. Maybe there’s room for improvement, but he’s going to fall far short from his career .339 mark.

Could Cain be a .275ish hitter with 10/15 upside? That’s not a stretch, but just how valuable is that truly? While the name holds appeal, he’s become nothing more than a low-end option and not a difference maker. Don’t make the mistake of considering him as anything else.

Source – Fangraphs

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