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Lorenzo Cain: No More Flyballs

Lorenzo Cain finally looked great to start off the 2013 season after struggling with injuries in 2012. He hit .325 with three steals in April. While the short sample was not the league’s best, he looked to be useful in deeper leagues and as a plug-and-play canidate. The wheels quickly came off and he hit only .233 over the rest of the season. A change in his approach and injuries caused his season to collapse. His 2014 value will be tied to getting back to his early 2013 form.

Cain’s 2013 season can be divided up into three time frames April to May (good – groundball hitter), June to August (bad – flyball hitter), and September (ugly – injured). He seems to take one of these three forms and only the first one is any bit useful for a fantasy owner. Here is a look at each one of these states.

Over the first two months of the season, Cain hit .282/.344/.388 with one home run and eight stolen bases. Not great, but an above average AVG is useful in deep leagues.  Cain will never really have much power as seen from his 2013 FB&HR distance of 261 (injured Dustin Pedroia territory).  While  hitting all over the lineup, he was able to get a respectable 49 R+RBI over the first two month.

At the end of May, the Royals fired their hitting coaches, hired two new ones and Cain season turned around for the worse. I could not find any mention of a new plate approach,  but Cain went from a 3 GB/FB ratio to a 1 GB/FB ratio almost immediately.

Month GB/FB AVG OBP SLG ISO BABIP
Mar/Apr 3.0 0.325 0.382 0.442 0.117 0.369
May 3.1 0.247 0.311 0.344 0.097 0.324
Jun 1.3 0.205 0.267 0.349 0.144 0.263
Jul 1.1 0.266 0.314 0.328 0.062 0.308
Aug 0.9 0.286 0.382 0.321 0.035 0.308

Cain is his best when he hits line drives and groundballs and can use his speed to get on base and take extra bases. Even though he was able to hit three home runs over the second time frame vice one in the first one, his ISO declined from .106 to .093. When he tried to hit more flyballs after May, his FB&HR value was the same at 261 ft. Cain changed his approach at the start of June and it killed his fantasy value.

Finally in late July, Cain forgot who he was and decided it was injury time. At the end of July, he missed a couple of game because of a groin injury. Then he missed most of most of August and some of September with a strained oblique. When he returned, he was still hitting injured and put up a .185/.214/.259 line.

Lorenzo Cain in probably not rosterable in most shallower league. In deeper or AL-only leagues, he has some value with everything except home runs. Be prepared for a production drop off if he is hitting too many flyballs or has recently been injured.