It’s funny – I once thought a headline like that would be one mocking the Florida Marlins for the former top prospect they acquired in the Miguel Cabrera trade, but now it resonates a bit more.
Ever since he was given the green light to take over center field for los Tigres, Cameron Maybin has been everything we wanted Anthony Gose to be: very good outfield defense, great use of his speed, and a knack for getting on base.
His defense has been revelatory – with San Diego and Atlanta he showed an ability to track down baseballs in flight, utilizing his gazelle-like speed to nab balls in flight. It’s his breakneck wheels that actually frame his perceived defensive liabilities as well: Maybe sports an OOZ (which measure the plays made outside of his zone in CF) of 26, which places him at 21st in league-wide CF measurements…ahead of Yo Cespedes. Of course, Maybin has done that in just over 400 innings of play (400.1 to be exact).
To put that into perspective, the players in front of him — Jacoby Ellsbury and Dexter Fowler — have OOZ’s of 27 in 640.1 and 535.2 innings, respectively. With that sort of range, in cavernous Comerica Park no less, Maybin gets to baseballs he has no business getting to, and misplaying those leads to him having a negative Defensive War this season (-5.4). His arm is average-to-good, and he has shown he can track balls in flight pretty well (also, his Revised Zone Rating of .914 would put him ahead of OFs like Leonys Martin, Jackie Bradley Jr, and that Yo Cespedes fellow…)
And offensively? The dude has always shown a knack for taking a walk, but over the last three seasons his walk rate has gone up (7.0 to 8.1 to 9.5) while his strikeout rate has gone down (20.6 to 18.4 to 15.0). That is already a recipe for success, and when you factor in his outrageous speed for legging out infield hits his OBP of .402 doesn’t seem so silly (yes, his BABIP is .399, but his healthy season show a high BABIP in his career bc of his incredible speed. Look at guys like Jose Altuve, whose speed factors into their own high seasonal BABIPs).
Also? My boy Cam has a nice, easy swing that, despite his low ISO right meow, can result in a couple dongs like this one:
Yes, throughout Maybin’s career he’s had myriad minor injuries that lead to decreased playing time, but he’s really shown growth as a player, and if he can stay healthy (and therefore productive) over the course of 140 games, then the Tigers will be getting that vaunted player they took way back in the first round of 2005.