After being snubbed for the Gold Glove in center field year after year, Lorenzo Cain finally won the award in 2019. The accolades regarding his defensive prowess keep on coming, and this evening LoCain took home is fourth Defensive Player of the Year Award sponsored by Wilson.
Unlike the Gold Glove award, Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year award does bring analytics into account. At MLB.com they state that the award is determined using a formula that combines traditional defensive stats with advanced metrics.
As has already illustrated by my colleague, Brad Ford in his report about LoCain’s Gold Glove award, he really is deserving. In fact this award might just be more of an honor than the Gold Glove because it awards the best defensive player at his position across all of MLB, not just the National or American League. With that in mind, Cain won this award over not just Harrison Bader and Victor Robles, but Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Trout, and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Looking at some of the ranks among center fielders in 2019, LoCain measures out. In terms of Fangraphs’ overall defensive metric (something of a WAR for defense), Cain ranked only second to Harrison Bader (14.5 to 9.0). Cain ranked second to Victor Robles in DRS (22 to 20). He ranked second to Bader in UZR (12.8 to 7.0), and he had the most out of zone plays made in the sport for his position. He achieved all of this while playing through injuries to his knee and ankle for much of the season. Couple all of that with the fact that he has been the best center fielder in baseball analytically for a couple of seasons now, and the accolades and awards (he also won a second-straight Fielding Bible Award) being bestowed on him are well overdue.
Baseball statistics courtesy of Fangraphs