Cameron Maybin Was Better Than You Thought In 2015

Today, the Atlanta Braves firesale continued, as they sent CF Cameron Maybin packing to Detroit for young left-handed relievers Ian Krol and Gabe Speier.

Neither of these young pitchers are household names, but they make for interesting conversation. Krol is 24 years old and saw 33 games in the MLB this season, but struggled, allowing a high number of walks and hits as well as being somewhat dinger-prone. However, he’s a lefty with a 93 MPH fastball that touched 97 MPH this year, and that’s nothing to look down at. Speier, drafted by the Red Sox out of HS in 2013, owns a career MiLB ERA of 2.34 and has good walk and strikeout rates. Plus, the kid is only 20, and therefore (theoretically) still has lots of room to improve.

However, neither of those young men are the focus of this post; instead, you should turn your attention towards our friend Mr. Maybin. Somehow still just 28 years old, Cameron had a quietly resurgent year with the Braves in 2015. Maybin, in his first full season since 2012, posted a .267/.327/.370 slash line, while notching career highs in HR (10) and RBI (59). His wRC+ of 95 was pretty good for someone who had little chance to drive in runs and isn’t much of a power hitter. A batter of his type would be more valuable if they got on base more often, but Maybin’s BB:K ration wasn’t awful (45:102). Additionally, Maybin was tied for 10th in the NL in stolen bases, converting 23 of 29 attempts. While these aren’t eye-popping numbers, it confirms something that fans weren’t sure of going into the season: Maybin is still a viable major-league hitter. Interestingly enough, with Maybin’s progression as a hitter came regression as a fielder. Maybin was pretty awful by most standards this season, posting a -7.2 Ultimate Zone Rating and -16 Defensive Runs Saved. Looking at his UZR from a component standpoint, his range was by far the worst part of his game with a rating of -7.1 (0.0 being average).

However, the Tigers are in a good position to handle this situation as they currently have an opening in LF. After the trade of Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline, Rajai Davis and Tyler Collins split time at the position for the Tigers in 2015. Davis, 34, is currently a free agent and this deal all but spells the end of his stint with the Tigers. Collins, a 25-year-old rookie in 2015, put together a pretty solid season over 207 PA but this deal likely implies the organization’s doubt in him as a long-term LF option (he posted a -0.8 dWAR in just 60 games this season). So, with Maybin struggling defensively and Anthony Gose in CF, it makes sense that the Tigers might look into shifting Maybin to LF where his (seemingly) declining range will be less of a detriment to the defense.

Both sides got pretty good returns here, but I’d have to say the Tigers got more value. Maybin should contribute immediately in Detroit, while Krol will likely peak as a mediocre middle-relief guy/LOOGY and Speier is at least a year or two off from making an impact at the MLB level. If Maybin can manage as a replacement-level LF, he looks to be in a good position to have a solid free-agent year with the Tigers.

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