After an incredible showing in a short stint in September, Cameron Maybin appears poised to take over center field for the Florida Marlins, perhaps as early as opening day 2009. Maybin is an excellent prospect and may be hyped amongst fantasy baseball writers, but I want to offer fair warning: for 2009, Maybin may be disappointing.
(NOTE: I think Cameron Maybin is a fantastic prospect. He’s great for keeper leagues, but for this article I will focus only on what to expect in 2009).
Maybin spent most of 2008 in double-A in 2008, hitting .277/.375/.456 with 13 homers and 21 steals in 390 at bats. However, Maybin is more known for his stint with the Marlins in September, when he hit .500/.543/.563 in 32 at bats, with 4 steals (and somehow managed to be +3 on defense according to Bill James online).
Maybin’s 32-at-bat stint in the majors should basically be ignored: he happened to hit well over a very, very small sample size. When projecting him for 2009, we should look at the larger sample of his 08 minor league numbers. And those numbers are somewhat misleading, for two reasons.
First of all, Maybin’s .277 batting average was driven by a high .380 BABIP. He hit an average number of line drives (17.6%), but a very high number of grounders, perhaps allowing him to beat out a large share of infield hits. Still, a .380 BABIP is probably unsustainable, meaning his .277 batting average was higher than it should have been.
On the flip side, Maybin’s home park depressed his overall line. While Carolina played fairly neutral in 2008, it has historically depressed homers and hits by about 10% each. And sure enough, Maybin hit .314/.401/.508 with nine homers on the road, but only .249/.356/.413 with four homers at home.
So what should we expect in 2009? First of all, Maybin is both fast and a good base stealer. The Marlins are generally an aggressive team, so expect Maybin to steal a good amount of bases. However, I wouldn’t expect much in the power department – Maybin is certainly still young enough to develop power, but he hit twice as many ground balls as fly balls in the minors this year, and is unlikely to hit many homers in 2009.
Furthermore, although Maybin walked a lot in 2008 – a good sign for his long-term development – he also struck out a lot. While this may not hold him back in the long-term – he’s young enough to be able to improve – it doesn’t bode well for his batting average in 2009. Remember, Maybin only hit .277 in double-A this year, and that was despite posting an inordinately-high BABIP. In 2009 he will be facing much more difficult pitching, and may very well have a hard time posting a batting average of even .250, despite see his speed (see Carlos Gomez in 08).
Maybin would almost certainly benefit from some experience in triple-A, given his age and his propensity to strike out and hit ground balls. His speed, defense, and willingness to take a walk should translate well into the majors, making him at least an adequate player for the Marlins in 09. However, fantasy players should expect a low batting average and minimal power, coupled with a lot of stolen bases (assuming he get on base a decent amount of time).
Maybin is an excellent long-term prospect, but may only help in the stolen base category in 2009.