Cameron Maybin: Already Worth It?

This past offseason, the Florida Marlins traded away toolsy but flawed Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange for a pair of relievers. So far this season, Maybin has been putting up a .260/.337/.481 line and looks good in the field. Can we stamp this trade as a win for the Padres already?

In a trade reaction piece over the winter, Dave Cameron focused on the question of whether or not Maybin could improve his strikeout rate in order to be more of a force at the plate. Later in the offseason, Paul Swydan suggested that the plan was mostly about getting a strong defensive center fielder in order to help strengthen the effectiveness of the starting rotation and improve the outfield defense overall. The two authors clearly outlined the two most important aspects of Maybin’s game with respect to his future value.

Obviously, the defensive part of the package is the hardest to appreciate in such a small sample. So far so good. In every UZR category but the one connected to his arm, he’s been a positive this year. It would be nice to point to the fact that this continues a trend so far in his major league career — he’s been a double-digit defender in center every year but 2010 — but sample still looms large. Add up all of his non-2010 balls in zone, and you’re only about equal to his work in the entire 2010 season. And the total number of balls he’s seen in his zone (310) is about equal to the average qualified center fielder’s full season work last year (316). So we’ve basically seen one season of defensive work from Maybin, and half of it was excellent and half of it was just below scratch. At the risk of giving too much credence to what we’ve seen recently, let’s just say that he’s more of a +5 UZR/150 center fielder than the +12.3 one he’s been showing so far this year. That’s close to his “career” rate anyway (+5.7 UZR/150 career).

If that’s the case, Cameron Maybin has already shown that he was worth the trade. In 337.2 career innings over nine player-seasons, Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb have accrued a combined 1.5 WAR. Even with a large leap forward in their leverage — say if one becomes the closer or primary setup man in Florida — it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to accrue much more than twice that number in their future six cost-controlled player-seasons. They are still relievers.

In one month so far this season, Maybin has already been worth 1.0 WAR. Just playing to an average wOBA with +5 center field defense year-in and year-out would be worth at least 2.5 WAR per season (+0 batting runs, +5 fielding runs, +2.5 positional adjustment, +2 replacement per 600 PA), and he’s under cost control for another four years. Since 2008, only 35 relievers have been worth 2.5 WAR, period. Even if you place both of these relievers in that category going forward (a rosy proposition), and make Maybin a scratch bat with an above-average glove (more reasonable, perhaps), he’s likely to accrue twice as many wins before he hits free agency.

Maybin is probably showing his best-case scenario right now. If he was able to continue putting up something like his current .370 wOBA he would be worth much, much more than 2.5 WAR a year. The open question is if he can continue to be this potent with the bat. He’s cut his strikeout rate to 27.3% (30.9% career) right now, and that has always been the key to unlocking his toosly potential at the plate. Could that work continue?

Pizza Cutter’s reprinted piece last week reminded us that per-pitch numbers are more reliable than per-PA numbers at this point of the season, and that contact rate stabilizes reasonably quickly. That said, we don’t see a corresponding rise in contact rate to explain Maybin’s “new” strikeout rate. In fact, his 69.6% contact rate right now is worse than his career number (72.1%). Mr. Cutter did not run the numbers for O-Swing%, but as a per-pitch number, we might take heart in Maybin’s improvement there (18.7% this season, 25.7% career). He still whiffs too much (12.% swSTR%, 8.6% is average), but he’s making progress by offering less often at pitches outside the zone. Even a batter with Maybin’s contact issues can be decent if he offers at 10% fewer balls than the average major leaguer (28% average this year).

Cameron Maybin may see some regression as his isolated slugging percentage (.221 this season, .144 career) moves toward his career mean, even if his strikeout rate stays where it is. However, it looks like he has clearly defined his both his up- and downsides. It may not matter if he’s only able to achieve the latter — considering that it “merely” took two relievers to get him. As long as he can keep his wOBA above average by flashing his considerable athletic assets and avoiding pitches outside the zone, his glove looks like it will make him worth far more than the two arms it took to get him. The Padres should take heart.



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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Deadpool
Guest
Deadpool
5 years 5 months ago

I’ll forever remember Cameron Maybin as the guy who missed almost an entire season of MiLB ball with a spider bite.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
5 years 5 months ago

It was more like five days. He had 459 MiLB plate appearances that year, plus a September callup.

Deadpool
Guest
Deadpool
5 years 5 months ago

I didn’t say it was true, just that’s how I’d remember it.

lexomatic
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lexomatic
5 years 5 months ago

Google Glenallen Hill & spiders

Peter O.
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Peter O.
5 years 5 months ago

I sure hope he keeps it up. Maybin is and will continue be a huge factor in me winning fantasy this year. That and Berkmand and Pujols switching bodies this year.

Mario Mendoza
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Mario Mendoza
5 years 5 months ago

Better luck next year.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
5 years 5 months ago

No one cares about your fantasy team.

Small Sample Goodness
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Small Sample Goodness
5 years 5 months ago

Don’t be “that guy.”

JoeDaddy
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JoeDaddy
5 years 5 months ago

Phun w/ Phonetics:

Maybin you need to Pujols old Fantasy Rankings and put more Berkman the process.

Laurence
Guest
Laurence
5 years 5 months ago

I like what I’ve seen from Maybin so far. I knew he had a history of striking out quite a bit but ever since Buddy put him in leadoff, he seems to have figured out why patience is so important on that spot….if anything batting him first has FORCED him to take more pitches…and overall I think its gonna help his BA in the long run. At the end of the day with all his tools on display he is our most talented Guy. I don’t know what that says about the rest of the guys on the 25 man roster but it is what it is.

Dandy Salderson
Guest
Dandy Salderson
5 years 5 months ago

Patience was not his problem. Look at his minor league walk rates.

Ryan Braun
Guest
Ryan Braun
5 years 5 months ago

I let Cameron Maybin touch my girlfriend’s ass this past off-season. What I’m saying is that it’s possible 1% of me might have rubbed off on him.

Zach
Guest
Zach
5 years 5 months ago

Is there any reason why Cameron Maybin can’t be Drew Stubbs?

Heyward
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Heyward
5 years 5 months ago

Color

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
5 years 5 months ago

HA!

JoeDaddy
Guest
JoeDaddy
5 years 5 months ago

They fingerprint you at most DMV locations nowadays…or maybe just CA.

DonCoburleone
Guest
DonCoburleone
5 years 5 months ago

I love what Jed Hoyer has done since taking over for the Padres. He did the extemely unpopular (but inevitable) move of trading Adrian Gonzalez while still getting (hopefully) 90 cents on the dollar. Then he took the Padres strength (bullpen) and traded for “Mike” Cameron Maybin who, as you’ve just shown, has been better than expected.. And the other thing he’s doing (which he talked about on the local radio show extensively in the offseason) is how he is emphasizing the great pitching environment that is Petco to all free agent pitchers. Example #1 is Aaron Harang who turned down more money and years from other teams because Hoyer convinced him to come to Petco and re-establish his value. Now that is what the Padre GM SHOULD be doing. I love it and hopefully this leads to success for Hoyer and the Pads.

exxrox
Member
exxrox
5 years 5 months ago

I kinda wish the Blue Jays sent their two minor league relievers to the Marlins for Maybin, rather than to Oakland for Rajai Davis.

G-Air
Guest
G-Air
5 years 5 months ago

Me too. Except can’t really fault Anthopolous for the majority of his off-season moves. He somehow managed to move one of the worst contracts in baseball. A contract considered untradeable by everyone except the Angels. It didn’t matter what they got back. The salary relief was enough.

Gleb
Guest
Gleb
5 years 5 months ago

I’m not a fan of Maybin on the bases and I’ll wait and see if his patience regresses towards the back end of the season.
I did like trade for SD though.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 5 months ago

“Beware of sample sizes! Like with any defensive statistic, you should always use three years of UZR data before trying to draw any conclusions on the true talent level of a fielder.”

What’s the point of using UZR statistic as “evidence” that he’s good at defense when it takes 3 years of sample to draw any conclusion from it? You can tell from watching him play that he’s a good defender… Is UZR a statistic that quantifies what has happened? Such as RBIs, HRs, Doubles etc?

doug K
Member
doug K
5 years 5 months ago

I’ll still take the under than Maybin’s OPS will be lower by September

Mr wOBAto
Guest
Mr wOBAto
5 years 5 months ago

Jeff Francouer…Already Worth It?

Preston
Guest
Preston
5 years 5 months ago

Jeff Francouer becomes worth it if they can con a team in believing he’s really “turned the corner” and trade him for any legitimate prospects. As for Maybin even if he regresses he’s a huge offensive upgrade over Tony Gwynn Jr. who they likely would have retained as their starter had they not gotten Maybin. I’ll trade two middle relievers for an upgrade in my every day lineup any day.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 4 months ago

From Asheville: I have watched Maybin’s Ups @ downs in the
majors. The 24 year old is maturing into a solid player. He has
a team at San Diego that will give him a chance, and guidance.
He will continue to struggle at the plate. But, if he can finish the
year injury free, at 270+ average. This would be a major jump
up.

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