Cameron Maybin & Brandon Lowe: Deep League Wire

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, which resulted in a flurry of deals that have vaulted many players into new roles. Let’s discuss two beneficiaries.

Cameron Maybin | OF SEA | CBS 8% Owned

It seems like Maybin has been around forever and I still think of him as a prospect, but he’s 31, and while he’s endured and up and down career, it has mostly been down offensively. The Mariners have decided to make a playoff push, which led them to acquiring the center fielder they so desperately needed, as Guillermo Heredia’s .285 wOBA and 0 WAR weren’t cutting it. Maybin will once again have the chance to play every day, and he moves to a better lineup (though a worse lineup slot).

Maybin’s calling card has always been his speed, as he has swiped about 27 bases for every 600 plate appearances throughout his career. Unfortunately, it appears that his speed has eroded. He has just 8 steals for a pace of just about 16 and his Spd score has plummeted. That’s nowhere near what we count on him for, but a 16 steal pace is still useful and shouldn’t be sitting on any waiver wires in deep leagues.

Though we had always hoped for a power breakout, it never occurred, partly because he doesn’t hit enough fly balls. He’s now in a much less home run suppressing park, which could perhaps get his HR/FB rate back into the high single digits or low double digits. He’s still hitting fly balls at a sub-30% level, so obviously we shouldn’t count on more than mid-single digit homers the rest of the way. But upside of five homers and 10 steals is valuable.

The good news is that his skills look as good as ever, as he has nudged his walk rate up to another career high, fully holding onto last year’s big gain. He has also cut his SwStk% to a career low, and his LD% is easily sitting at a career best. All of these metrics paint the picture of a pretty solid hitter, and one that should be quite a bit better than the .302 wOBA he has posted.

There’s some playing time risk when Robinson Cano eventually returns if they want to move Dee Gordon back to center field, but you could worry about that when the time comes. If Maybin is performing well, it’ll likely be someone else who takes a seat, like Ryon Healy and his .308 wOBA at first base.

Brandon Lowe | 2B TB | 5% Owned

The Rays made a series of moves, plus Daniel Robertson suffered a thumb injury that will knock him out for the rest of the year, all of which has opened the door to Lowe. Since Joey Wendle has been pretty solid at second base, it appears that Lowe will form the strong side of a left field platoon with Carlos Gomez, who has been awful this year.

Lowe was ranked as the Rays 16th best prospect heading into the season, where Eric Longenhagen described him as follows:

Lowe’s swing had better hand separation in 2017, and the quality of his contact drastically improved…His swing plane will probably result in doubles-oriented power, but there’s going to be a lot of loud contact and passable defense at second base…He projects as an average everyday player at second base.

Projecting as an every day second baseman is pretty good praise considering he was ranked just 16th. But after his performance in the minors this year, scouts might be reconsidering their opinions and upping their expectations.

Between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit 22 homers, which includes a a mid-teen HR/FB rate at Double-A and 25% mark at Triple-A, around double and triple, his 2017 minor league marks, respectively. We often times shout small sample size or fluke when we see a hitter wildly outperform his historical performance, but when I see a young minor leaguer enjoy a power breakout, backed up by other strong skills, I take notice.

In addition to the power, Lowe has walked at a double digit clip at every minor league stop, aside from his peculiar stint at Double-A last year when he walked just twice in 101 plate appearances. He doesn’t strike out at an alarming rate, hits line drives and fly balls at rates we want to see from a power hitter, and rarely popped up over his 181 Triple-A at-bats. He even chipped in eight steals this year.

With the Rays out of the playoff hunt, Lowe should be given a long leash to see if his minor league breakout is real. He has the potential to contribute in power, not kill your average, and steal a couple of bases as well, over the rest of the way.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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3 years ago

Not related, but would you rather have Bregman or Judge for the next 6 years? I have a shot to win this year……..