Lorenzo Cain struggled at the plate in 2019. Will the Milwaukee Brewers center fielder return to form in 2020 or will father time catch up with him.
2019 in Review
Lorenzo Cain struggled in 2019 at the plate to the tune of an OPS of .697. His OPS fell by .116 from 2018 to 2019. He scored fewer runs, had fewer hits and had a lower batting average last year.
The Brewers were able to win the NL Central in 2018 in large part to the contributions from their leadoff spot. Needless to say, he needs to rebound for the Brewers to contend in 2020, especially since Yasmani Grandal signed with the White Sox and Mike Moustakas is a free agent.
Injuries & Bad Luck
Cain may have struggled hitting in 2019, but his struggles might be explained by injuries that bugged him throughout the year; including a thumb injury that required cryotherapy. Ryan Braun had this same thumb injury in 2014. Braun’s OPS fell from .987 in 2012 to .777 in 2014 (2013 was the year Braun missed 65 games for a PED suspension). After having this procedure done, Braun raised his OPS up to .854 in 2015 and .903 in 2016.
This thumb injury was not the only injury Cain had to fight through in 2019, he also had a knee injury that forced him to miss games late in the year.
As if being injured for most of the 2019 season was not enough of a challenge, he also hit into bad luck in 2019; in fact he was one of the unluckiest hitters in all of Major League Baseball. The league average on hard hit balls in 2019 was .541, whereas Cain hit only .378 on hard hit balls in 2019. His season average dropped by .048 point in 2019, even though 2019 was the second highest hard hit rate in a season he has produced since his rookie season.
Will Cain Rebound in 2020?
Three out of the last four years before 2019 Cain had an OPS over .800. Getting healthy in the 2019-20 off season is his number one priority as he tries to rebound in 2020.
Cain hit the ball hard in 2019, which means that we should see his numbers improve. The biggest reason for concern is that Cain will turn 34 in April 2020. Braun was able to rebound from his thumb injury in his age 31 and 32 seasons. Cain may be at the point in his career when he begins to decline, so he may not be able to rebound from these injuries.
Cain Needs to Stay Healthy
The Brewers need to have better production out of the lead off spot in 2020. The OPS of the lead off hitter for the Brewers fell by .100 points from 2018 to 2019. Getting more runners on in front of Christian Yelich will go a long ways in helping the Brewers make the postseason in 2020.
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As long as Cain can recover from the injuries he suffered in 2019 and stay healthy in 2020, his numbers should revert closer to his MVP caliber 2018 season.