Lorenzo Cain dipped a toe in the 2020 season before deciding it was best to play it safe and just sit poolside, and his presence was definitely missed. While the Brewers were ready, willing, and in need of another full season of Cain patrolling centerfield, the cruel Baseball Gods of Injury had other plans.
Even though his season was plagued by injuries and he’s now closer to 40 years old than he is 30, Cain was still a major factor in the Brewers’ success in 2021. While only playing in 78 games, he managed to produce a WAR of 2.2, which was good for fifth on the team for position players.
Offensive Grade: B-
While Cain’s OPS+ was only 95, 1.6 of his 2.2 WAR came from his offense. His slashline was a mediocre .257/.329/.401, but when compared to the line of the guy that replaced him in center, that line felt Ruthian. Cain’s 1.6 offensive WAR was ninth best in the league of the players who played fewer than 80 games, behind big names like Mike Trout, George Springer, and Byron Buxton.
Cain also managed to swipe 13 bases in only 15 attempts, so while he might be 60 years old in baseball years, there’s still plenty of tread left on his tires. His 13 steals were the second most by a player over 35 who played in fewer than 80 games in the integration era. He’s behind former Brewers’ manager Davey Lopes who swiped 20 bags in 58 games in 1981 at the age of 36.
Cain made an impact on the base paths in ways other than just stealing bases. In May, he scored from second on a sac fly to center against the Cardinals, then days later pulled out the rare pickle victory against the Braves. Plays like those don’t show up in box scores, but they’re the reason that despite having an average slashline, Cain remains the heart of this Brewers offense.
Defensive Grade: A+
Don’t overthink this. It’s Lorenzo Cain. Since the turn of the century, only 21 players have had a defensive WAR of 0.8 while playing in less than 80 games. Oddly enough, Manny Pina did it alongside Cain last year. Cain, however, is the only outfielder in that group. Not only that, his 0.8 defensive WAR is the highest among any outfielder over the age of 35 to play less than 100 games.
WHAT A CATCH BY LORENZO CAIN 😱 pic.twitter.com/nWEiBIVjHV
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 18, 2021
His 0.8 defensive WAR is 11th best all time among outfielders over the age of 35, behind guys like Roberto Clemente, Willy Mays, and Robin Yount. The ten guys ahead of Cain, however, combined for an average of 137 games played. To reiterate, Cain nearly matched them in only 78 games. Defensively speaking, Cain is aging unlike any outfielder in baseball history. He only plays A+ defense.
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