The Past, Present, and Future of Cameron Maybin

Courtesy of Zimbio

Not too long ago, the name “Cameron Maybin” meant big things. Picked tenth overall by the Detroit Tigers in the 2005 draft, the eighteen year-old from Asheville, North Carolina was surely going to be the next great five-tool centerfielder.

In his first season in the Minor Leagues for the Tigers, Maybin exhibited why scouts gushed about him. Maybin posted a .304/.387/.457 line with 9 homeruns, 69 RBI, 59 runs, and 27 stolen bases at Single-A. The right-handed hitter only improved the following season, smacking a .316/.409/.523 line with 14 homeruns, 53 RBI, 68 runs, and 25 stolen bases between multiple levels (as high as Double-A). But as bright as Maybin’s future no doubtably seemed, the constantly re-building Florida Marlins dangled young slugger Miguel Cabrera like a carrot in front of the Tigers–and they couldn’t refuse.

In 2007, the Tigers dealt Maybin, along with Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, and Dallas Trahern to the Marlins for Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. At the time, the trade was seen as an even split–the Tigers got their sure-thing slugger, and the Marlins received almost Major League-ready prospects. However, Maybin’s road to success encompassed a few hurdles.

Even though many people thought Maybin was ready to play for the Marlins right away, the cost-conscious franchise preferred to delay his arbitration years by keeping him in the Minors. Maybin continued his impressive Minor League stats, owning a .277/.375/.456 line in 2008 (at Double-A) and .319/.399/.463 line in 2009 (at Triple-A). But as solid as the outfielder was against Minor League pitching, the youngster struggled in his stints in “the show.”

From 2008 to 2010, Maybin collected 557 plate appearances, while posting an unremarkable .257/.323/.391 line. While the outfielder showed promise with his glove in 2009 (13.4 UZR/150), he struggled at the position the following season (-6.3 UZR/150). With a subpar glove (-6.3 UZR/150), mediocre pop (.361 SLG), and less speed than he showed in the Minors (9 stolen bases), Maybin’s 2010 season not only sold him out of a starting job, but also out of a roster spot.

The Marlins uncharacteristically cast the outfielder off in 2011, sending Maybin to the Padres in exchange for two relievers (Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb). With a guaranteed starting job in the very low pressure San Diego environment, Maybin flourished in 2011. The right-handed hitter posted a .264/.323/.393 line (which was eerily identical to the cumulative .257/.323/.391 line he posted with the Marlins), but also stole 40 bases (tied for second with Matt Kemp, Emilio Bonifacio, and Drew Stubbs), and placed second in the National League among centerfielders with a 11.6 UZR/150.

As much of a breakout season as 2011 was for Maybin, some of his peripherals indicate there could be some regression in 2012 and beyond. His .331 BABIP suggests an elevated hit rate–but then again, he owns a career .332 BABIP. In addition, Maybin tends to strikeout too often (22% K%) and doesn’t walk enough to be a leadoff man (7.7% BB%), but he also has a respectable 31.6% non-strike swing rate. People also have to remember that despite the ups-and-downs of Maybin’s career over the past four seasons, the guy will just be 25 years-old. While he was certainly a can’t miss prospect not too long ago, if the expectations for stardom are lowered to more pedestrian levels, a team could do a lot worse than a terrific defensive outfielder with top-ceiling speed.

Any statistical information taken from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs.

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5 responses to “The Past, Present, and Future of Cameron Maybin

  1. Pingback: Ben Berkon: The Past, Present, and Future of Cameron Maybin | Daily Play - Your Sports Website

  2. So basically he was rated higher this season than last by a highly volatile metric (UZR) and he stole more bases because he was allowed to play every day and given the green light. I honestly don’t see why so many people are saying he had a “breakout” year. He had an above average year and has room to improve but there wasn’t much change in his game other than the team’s philosophy on stolen bases and consistent playing time.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like Maybin as a player and I think he is a great fit for the Padres but I’ve seen several articles about how great his season was and I just don’t see the difference everyone keeps mentioning. He is and will probably always be a very solid complimentary piece, not the super star people were expecting. Honestly though, what is wrong with that?

    • I agree that UZR isn’t the end-all-and-be-all, but it’s still a decent enough metric to evaluate defense–especially in larger samples sizes. Given Maybin’s full-time gig, he proved he was an elite fielder. That’s a label he didn’t previously have in the Majors (possibly due to the lack of consistent playing time). I can’t speak to how the Marlins used/didn’t use Maybin’s speed, but 40 SB in a season (when he had 14 combined previously) is a tremendous accomplishment.

      Since he didn’t show any signs of being an elite fielder or speedster prior to this season, it’s pretty fair to label his 2011 as a “breakout season.” But I think it’s fair to caveat “breakout” as “breakout for the type of player Maybin is.” Regardless, based on my article’s final sentence, I think we’re in a general agreement about the type of player Maybin is now.

      Thanks for reading and posting!

  3. Not to mention Maybin was very good outside of his unfriendly home park, hitting at a rate of .294/.349/.457. At Petco, those numbers drop to .231/.294/.324. Furthermore, when a lot of the talk first started about Maybin’s breakout year he was sporting a better line then the one he ended with. On August 20th he was batting .279/.332/.409 (road: .316/.369/.484) only to hit .221/.302/.354 the rest of the way.

    Like most everyday players that call Petco home, the straight line doesn’t give them the proper respect they deserve. The Marlins park is a pitcher’s park as well, but prior to arriving in San Diego he hit .250/.312/.401 on the road. So I think the improvement was very real, just that it’s partially getting masked by the home park. Thrilled to have him the next 4+ years.

  4. Pingback: Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Angels, Prado, Giants | Forex News

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