During the 2015 season, Lorenzo Cain enjoyed a massive offensive breakout in which he slashed .307/.361/.477 with 16 home runs, 72 RBI and 28 stolen bases. He did all of that while playing a Gold Glove caliber center field, earning his first All-Star game nod and finishing third in the voting for the American League MVP.
It was the type of breakthrough that had long been anticipated from Cain who had always flashed all of his wonderful tools, but was never able to put the whole package together for an extended period of time.
Regression hit him hard during an injury-plagued 2016 season. He still delivered a nice batting average (.287), but his power and speed numbers fell off substantially with just nine homers and 14 swipes in 103 games.
The start to the 2017 campaign looked like more of the same from the 31-year-old outfielder. Through his first 50 games, Cain was slashing .257/.346/.358. He had shown an uptick in stolen bases, with 12 swipes in the first two months of the season, but he had clubbed just two home runs.
Since the calendar flipped to June, he's been a completely different player. In those 14 games, he's hitting (21-for-57) with eight home runs and 16 RBI. That includes a pair of home runs that he hit on Friday, powering the Royals to a 3-1 victory over the Angels in Los Angeles.
Cain has now homered in three consecutive ballgames and is providing much-needed power in the middle of the Royals lineup. While he obviously won't be able to sustain the pace of this recent power surge, he looks healthy and much more like the player that was the darling of the fantasy community in 2015.
As long as he's able to remain on the field and avoid the disabled list, Cain should provide tremendous profit to those who called his name on draft day.
Thames Strikes Again
Over the course of any major league season, the majority of players will experience both hot and cold spells. There will be times when a player is seeing the ball extremely well and punishing every opposing pitcher to the point where he can single-handedly carry a team for weeks at a time.
That's what we saw from Eric Thames in the month of April. The 30-year-old slugger hit the ground running in his return from the Korean Baseball Organization, slashing an insane.345/.466/.810 with 11 homers, 19 RBI and a 23/18 K/BB ratio in 103 plate appearances. He made those that gambled on him during fantasy drafts look absolutely brilliant.
Then, the cold spell happened. Over his next 35 games, Thames hit just .184/.345/.377 with five homers, 11 RBI and a 39/25 K/BB ratio. It was certainly an encouraging sign that even during his struggles he was still managing to draw walks at a very impressive clip. He was still striking out way too much though, and entering play on Wednesday his season slash had fallen all the way to .253/.396/.561.
It's starting to look like that cold spell is over though and Thames could be gearing up for another massive hot streak. Thames homered and doubled in Wednesday's victory over the Cardinals. He followed that up by clubbing a two-run homer off of Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth inning on Thursday, propelling the Brewers to another win.
On Friday, he delivered his third consecutive multi-hit game, going 3-for-5 against the Padres. Again, he played the role of hero, crushing a walk-off homer off of Ryan Buchter in the 10th inning.
Through 62 games now, Thames is hitting .269/.404/.608 with 19 homers, 36 RBI and two stolen bases. He owns a 65/44 K/BB ratio in 260 plate appearances. He's on pace to club more than 40 home runs on the season and given his impressive plate discipline, there's no reason to expect that he won't continue to put up similar numbers for the remainder of the season.
Fantasy owners who are fortunate enough to have him now get to sit back and enjoy the ride. Even if another cold streak pops up, which it inevitably well, make sure to keep him active in your lineup because the next hot streak is right around the corner.
American League Quick Hits: Aaron Judge blasted his major league leading 23rd home run in a loss to the Athletics... Tyson Ross looked mighty impressive in his first start since April 4 of 2016, allowing two runs on two hits over 5 2/3 innings against the Mariners... James Paxton was lit up for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in a losing effort against the Rangers... Carlos Gomez went 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBI in his return from the disabled list... Mookie Betts launched his 12th home run of the season, a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning, that led the Red Sox to victory over the Astros... Nick Castellanos doubled, tripled and plated four runs in a rout of the Rays... Melky Cabrera homered and drove in five runs in a win over the Blue Jays... Joe Biagini six earned runs over one-plus inning in a disastrous loss against the White Sox... Alen Hanson went 3-for-4 with a walk, stolen base and three runs scored out of the leadoff spot for the White Sox... Steve Pearce clubbed a solo homer in his return from the disabled list... Justin Smoak crushed his 19th home run of the season... Carlos Carrasco fanned seven over 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a win over the Twins... Edwin Encarnacion clubbed his 14th homer to pace the offense... Ian Kennedy carried a perfect game into the sixth inning in a win over the Angels... Cam Bedrosian is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday, though will presumably return to a setup role at least initially... Danny Duffy (oblique) threw a side session without issue on Friday... Hanley Ramirez was held out of the Red Sox' lineup again on Friday due to a pinching sensation in his neck... Dallas Keuchel (neck) is expected to resume throwing in the next day or two... Michael Brantley was placed on the paternity leave list and is expected to miss the weekend series against the Twins... The Rangers designated veteran right-hander Dillon Gee for assignment... The Tiger placed Victor Martinez on the 10-day disabled list due to an irregular heartbeat. It's unclear how long he'll be sidelined... Yonder Alonso told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he's open to discussing a contract extension with the Athletics.
National League Quick Hits: Keon Broxton homered for the second consecutive game, and 10th time this season, in a win over the Padres... Dan Straily fired 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball in a victory over the Braves... Dee Gordon had three hits and a pair of steals in that win... Alex Wood improved to 7-0 with eight innings of one-run baseball against the Reds. He sports a stellar 1.90 ERA... Joc Pederson homered and doubled in a win over the Reds... Max Scherzer racked up another 10-strikeout game in a victory against the Mets... Willson Contreras drove in three runs as the Cubs rallied in the ninth to beat the Pirates... Paul DeJong homered and plated three in a lopsided win against the Phillies... Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham and Jedd Gyorko also went deep there...Carlos Martinez fired ix innings of one-run ball to earn his sixth win... Justin Bour homered in his return from the disabled list, again off of a left-hander (Sean Newcomb)... Eduardo Nunez missed Friday's game due to hamstring tightness, he's considered day-to-day... Buster Posey (ankle) didn't start against the Rockies on Friday, but did walk as a pinch hitter... Jeff Samardzija was tagged for eight runs on 11 hits in a loss to the Rockies, but did help his own cause with a mammoth two-run homer... Ian Desmond crushed a three-run homer to lead the Rockies past the Giants in a wild one at Coors Field... Madison Bumgarner (shoulder) will throw a simulated game at the team's spring training facility on Sunday... A.J. Pollock (groin) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday... Bartolo Colon (oblique) is set to return to the Braves' rotation on Wednesday... Matt Kemp sat out Friday's game due to hamstring tightness... The Cubs placed Ben Zobrist on the 10-day DL with a left wrist injury... Matt Harvey landed on the 10-day DL with a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder. He's expected to miss several weeks... The Nationals signed veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson to a minor league contract.