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Should We Go Loco For Lorenzo

As Royals fans we all know about Dayton’s plan. We hear Dayton wants young athletic players to fill his Major League roster. We hear how spacious Kauffman Stadium’s outfield is. Then in 2011 we sign Melky Cabrera coming off the worst season of his career. Offensively, we knew Melky had tools, but defensively we knew he could be atrocious. He was coming off a season where his UZR/150 rating was -25.2 in Atlanta as a CF. Not the worst of his career, but you see my point. After this signing, came the inevitable trade of Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers. This is where our Lorenzo Cain story starts.

Lorenzo was the young up and coming CF of the Milwaukee Brewers. Lorenzo had experienced his first taste of the big leagues in 2010, playing in 43 games. We heard about his athleticism and the defensive tools he was bringing. We clamored for Lorenzo to get the opportunity to start in 2011 as our centerfielder. Lorenzo performed well in spring training, but Melky was promised CF. Staying true to his word to Melky, Lorenzo was off to Omaha. In Omaha, Lorenzo proved he was ready for his chance. In 128 games Lorenzo hit .312 with a .380 OBP. Throughout his minor league progression, he has shown an ability to hit for average and get on base. In 7 minor league seasons, Lorenzo has posted a .295 average and a .368 OBP. This year, Lorenzo had a power surge hitting 16 home runs to go along with his 28 doubles and 7 triples. Will this translate into major league production? This will be the big question going into the 2012 season. Bill James seems to think so. His projections for Lorenzo Cain’s 2012 season show splits of .284/10/58. With his past numbers and the development he has continued to show, it seems we can expect solid offensive production from Lorenzo. By no means should we expect him to produce like Melky did in 2011, but who would have ever thought Melky would have produced the way he did.

That brings us to an aspect Lorenzo brings that no “legitimate” Kansas City CF has had. SPEED! Cain currently may not be a prolific base stealer, but has shown flashes that he knows how to use his speed. More importantly, Lorenzo will be able to use his speed and instincts to patrol the spacious outfield at Kauffman Stadium. During times that Lorenzo struggles offensively, which is something we can expect from a young player with a long swing, his defense can save runs. When you compare the UZR/150 ratings it can put a player’s defensive value into runs saved. The most fascinating aspect of this statistic is how much defense can off-set a player’s offensive value. Let’s compare recent Kansas City CF’s defensive statistics.

2011 Melky Cabrera

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2011 Royals

CF

1265.2

-1

2

-4

-3

276

249

.902

67

-3.0

-6.3

0.7

-8.6

-9.7

2009 – 10 Mitch Maier

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Tzl

Fsr

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2009 Royals

CF

593.0

4

0

-6

-2

162

150

.926

31

-4.0

-4

3.8

-4.5

0.7

0.1

-0.4

2010 Royals

CF

525.2

3

0

-3

0

158

147

.930

26

0.0

-2

3.2

-2.5

0.0

0.6

2.7

2010 Lorenzo Cain

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Tzl

Fsr

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2010 Brewers

CF

306.1

2

0

4

6

79

71

.899

25

2.0

2

-1.0

3.2

-0.7

1.5

5.7

 

As you can see from the sample sizes above Lorenzo Cain profiles to be a much better defensive centerfielder than the players who have patrolled centerfield in Kansas City most recently. Lorenzo’s defensive ability will continue to improve as he grows comfortable with his surroundings at Kauffman Stadium. One of my favorite quotes from Lorenzo regarding his defensive ability was taken from an interview with Rob White of the Omaha World Herald. “I like to run around out there and use my legs a little bit,” he said. “I try to get the best reads I can and make plays for our pitchers. It’s always fun to save some runs when you can.” For our young and developing pitching staff this is vital. We witnessed the difference an outstanding defensive SS can make. Adding the additional defensive element up the middle will strengthen our defense significantly.

That brings us back to our initial question. Should We Go Loco For Lorenzo? Since 2004 when David Dejesus made his full time Major League debut we have not had a center fielder to be excited about. If Lorenzo Cain can provide us with David Dejesus like offensive production, which is close to what his current statistics project to be. With the defensive production Lorenzo Cain provides we may have someone special on our hands. Is it time to go Loco? I say why not! Lorenzo still has a lot to prove, but the talent and desire is there. Lorenzo profiles to be one more piece to the championship puzzle we all crave. Let’s Go Loco For Lorenzo!

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Kansas City Royals fan is going “Loco” for Lorenzo Cain, looking forward to the speedy, defensive-minded former Brewer taking over full time in center [...]

  2. [...] The Royals will be starting Lorenzo Cain. Cain has a ton of potential, but he is still a relative unknown. He provided Milwaukee with solid offensive production in 2010, but that was only in 43 games. It will be hard to predict what Lorenzo will provide, but if you look at his numbers from AAA last season, you can see why the Royals acquired Lorenzo in the Greinke deal. For a more in depth look at Lorenzo please read my past article Loco for Lorenzo. [...]


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