A Bounce-Back Year by Lorenzo Cain will Provide a Huge Boost

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 12, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 12, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

With some uncertainty surrounding this team, the Milwaukee Brewers are in need of a bounce-back season from Lorenzo Cain.

As was expected by many when the Milwaukee Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain to his five year – $80 million contract prior to the 2018 season, as the lead-off hitter he played a huge role in this team’s success during their World Series push.

Cain was coming off of a four-year stretch with Kansas City where he slashed .300/.352/.437 with an OPS+ of 113. And during the Brewers’ run to the NLCS, Cain came as advertised. During the 2018 season, he would slash .308/.395/.417 with an OPS+ of 119, while drawing a walk 11.5 percent of the time, and totaling an fWAR of 5.7.

Unfortunately in 2019, Cain was unable to maintain that same level of production that we had seen from him over the previous five seasons. In fact, his numbers dipped quite significantly. Cain would slash .260/.325/.372, his OPS+ fell to 81 – league average is 100 – his walk rate dropped by over three percent, while he struck out nearly 2 percent more often.

In fairness to Cain, he was battling through a thumb and knee injury that very likely played major roles in his down production. But he also deserves a ton credit for continuing to fight through those injuries as he still appeared in 148 games in 2019.

And while Cain had those issues at the plate, his defense was still spectacular. Along with a few patented home run saving robberies, Cain finished with 20 defensive runs saved, the same amount as in 2018, and Statcast’s new metric, Outs Above Average, had him at 14 runs above league average. Oh, and we finally saw Cain win his long overdue Gold Glove Award.

Now as we look ahead to the 2020 season for Cain and the Milwaukee Brewers, at the Brewers On Deck event in January, Cain mentioned that he was finally fully healthy and had even tweaked his offseason regimen which has him at about 10 pounds lighter than what he has normally played at.

In fact, Cain even reported to Spring Training with the pitchers and catchers last Wednesday, which is something that he hadn’t done during the last two seasons in Milwaukee. When asked why by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to put it simply, Cain was just ready to get to work:

"“I’m here to put some work in,” he said. “I feel like I had a disappointing season last year, and I feel like I need to do everything possible to get it right.”"

With a core made up of Cain, Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, Keston Hiura, Brandon Woodruff, and Josh Hader, once again this is a Brewers team that has high aspirations as they look to make the playoffs for the third straight season. Something that hasn’t happened in the team’s history.

However, even with those aforementioned players there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding this team. Milwaukee lost two big bats in Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas to free agency, many of their free agent signings have been low-cost players coming off of down seasons in 2019, and bullpen depth is a concern as well.

Next. Justin Smoak Primed for a Rebound in 2020. dark

So perhaps now more than ever, the Milwaukee Brewers are really going to need Cain to return to form and once again be a catalyst for this offense at the top of the order. Which if he can, and this goes without saying, it will provide the Brewers with a much-needed boost offensively.

All stats courtesy of Statcast, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Spotrac