Mid-level veterans continue to have trouble convincing teams to pay them, but teams across Major League Baseball must regret not taking a chance on Lorenzo Cain when he was still a free agent until January 26, 2018. After helping the Royals win back-to-back pennants and a World Series during his seven seasons in Kansas City, Cain eventually signed a five-year, $80 million contract in Milwaukee before last season. The Brewers ended the 2018 season one win short of the World Series in large part thanks to Cain, who finished the season with 6.9 WAR. If we follow the Fangraphs estimation for dollar per WAR, Cain was worth at minimum $28.98 million in 2018, at maxumum $40.71 million for the Brewers last season. So we can acknowledge that he came at a discount.
Why? It's not simply because of Cain's exacting batting eye, textbook baserunning or ability to hit for all fields. It's because he's one of the very best defensive outfielders in baseball. Just ask Cardinals outfielder José Martinez, who should have earned the rare honor of homering off of Brewers closer Josh Hader.
It's a perfect exhibition in defensive outfielding; Cain takes the ideal route, doesn't jump too early and pulls the ball back from over the wall. It's reminiscent of Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds in the All-Star Game in the same ballpark. At the plate, Cain added a run scored and base hit for good measure.
The catch perserved an exciting 5-4 win for the Brewers over the Cardinals despite two home runs from Kolten Wong.
The lesson? Appreciate Lorenzo Cain. It's not often you find a player who does everything correctly.