No. 1: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
April 10, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) is congratulated after scoring a run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
First things first: Ned Yost was a little off base with his claim that Lorenzo Cain is “arguably the best centerfielder in the game.” That’s not a knock on Cain. But let’s not forget about the little-known center fielder in Los Angeles, Mike Trout. Anybody ever heard of him?
Cain, though, is the best centerfielder in the AL Central.
He combines excellent speed with an ability to hit for a high average and gap-to-gap power. Cain hit .301/.339/.412 with the AL champion Royals last season. He hit 29 doubles, four triples and five home runs while stealing 28 bases in 133 games. He was a two-plus WAR player on both offense and defense, combining for a total 5.0 WAR last season.
The eventual ALCS MVP, Cain was scorching hot through last postseason. After going just 2-for-14 in the division series matchup with the Angels, Cain torched Baltimore to the tune of a .533/.588/.667 slash line and followed that up with a .308/.400/.385 effort in the World Series.
He has continued his hot-hitting through the early part of this season, hitting .419/.490/.651 in the Royals’ first 11 games. He has already clubbed two home runs and four doubles on the season, driving home 11 RBIs and stealing three bases.
At 29 years old, Cain is entering the prime of his career and projects to be one of the most productive outfielders in the division for the next several years. If he continues to produce the way he did last season, Cain will remain head and shoulders above the rest of this group.