When we talk about the best defensive outfielders in baseball, Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals might not be the first guy who comes to mind. Or even the second, third or fourth. But Cain has quietly become one of the top outfielders in the game this season, now that he's stayed relatively healthy for the Royals.
Look at this catch Cain made Thursday as further proof that he's doing some excellent things in centerfield for Kansas City. Great timing, great extension, great leap and, most of all, he got his glove up there and held on to the ball. Sorry, Trevor Plouffe, no home run for you. Sorry, Minnesota Twins, those are two runs you won't be getting.
In the grand scheme of things, plays like this one are a reason that Cain — even though a good number of people outside of the midwest don't know his name — is having a breakout season defensively.
He's first in the American League among outfielders in defensive WAR. He's second in baseball to only Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers, whose prowess is well documented. Cain also leads all outfielders in range factor and is second among AL centerfielders with seven assists.
Perhaps even more impressive about Cain's catch: He wasn't initially in the lineup on Thursday because he's been fighting a left groin injury. After feeling OK during warm-ups, he was added to the lineup. The Royals beat the Twins 7-2 for their ninth straight victory — with Cain's catch as one of the highlights. Afterward, Cain told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:
"Did it look good? I got a good jump on it. I was able to get back, take a peek at the wall, get up and make a play. I was pumped up. I robbed a home run. I was kind of excited, and it got the team excited."
It looked good, all right. But you gotta figure, for the Royals, seeing nine straight in the win column looks even better.