Rabu, 09 November 2011

Cameron Maybin’s Breakout Season

Cameron Maybin was drafted by the Tigers in the first round of 2005 and instantly became one of the games best prospects, rated #31 by Baseball-America. The following year, he leaped into the top 10 at #6 and earned his first cup of coffee in the big leagues at age 20. He naturally struggled, hitting .143/.208/.265. During that off-season he was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers while Maybin, Andrew Miller and others were sent to Florida.

Maybin kept his #6 rating in his first year with the Marlins and earned another cup of coffee, with much better results, .500/.543/.563. The following 2 years he hit .240/.308/.379 as the Marlins tried to ease him into the everyday centerfielder. Then finally they gave up on him, sending him to the Padres for relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. All in total, Maybin hit .246/.313/.380 from 2007-2010 and at age 24 looked like he will never live up to the hype that once was bestowed upon him.

Just looking at his triple slash line, it looks like he hasn’t improved at all. But there’s 2 areas that are noticeable. One is the decrease in strikeouts, the other is the wRC+, which is ballpark adjusted. He went from a below average 86 to an above average 112, a 26% increase. Petco Park is an extreme pitcher’s park, so it’s reasonable to suggest this is a ballpark difference and it shows.

Maybin was significantly better on the road than at home. This suggests that his breakout would have surely been more noticeable if he would have played in a different ballpark.

One area of concern is if he will be able to sustain that .330 BABIP. Well, he has his entire career, so I do not see why he could not keep it. The .351 BABIP on the road seemed to show a little luck, so I decided to look further.

It looks backwards since a higher line drive percentage should go with the higher BABIP. Maybin does have speed, and his road groundball percentage is higher, so by getting more infield hits can result in a higher BABIP. But based on what Maybin has done in the past, a line drive rate of 19.8%, should result in a higher BABIP than .307, so there could be a little bad luck. Add that with the fact that Mabin is only entering his age 25 year next year and everything points to an even better 2012 season.

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