I feel as if this play from yesterday’s game against the Reds is the Brewers play of the year and should be in the running for best play of the year in baseball. In case the amount of ground that Cain had to cover doesn’t impress you from the video, take a look at this screengrab:
If people weren’t appreciating Cain’s defense prior to this ridiculous catch combined with his dart to throw out a tagging Jay Bruce at second base, they should be now. Cain had the #9 and #2 plays on the ESPN top 10, and it’s not as though making solid defensive plays is any sort of new territory for the rookie. According to the FSN announcing crew, managers and players around the league have been raving about Cain, and his work in the outfield in particular, as he’s shown fantastic range ever since getting the call from the minors.
Right now, Cain is tearing the cover off of the ball, both in the sense of his solid .343 wOBA and in the sense of an insane 26.9% LD rate. Cain definitely profiles as a player who should typically have a high BABIP – say, .320-.330 – but expecting him to maintain a .364 BABIP would be unrealistic. As that falls off, Cain’s batting will probably hover around average, with the potential to be above average if he develops some power – something I wouldn’t hold my breath for, as Cain only hit 23 home runs in the minor leagues since 2006.
That said, take a roughly average or even slightly below average hitter with good defense in center field, and you’re looking at a 3+ WAR player with room to grow. Lorenzo Cain looks to be a huge asset for the Brewers in 2011 and beyond, and his skillset – his defense in particular – are just one of the reasons to be optimistic for the upcoming seasons.