Outfielders who hit 8-12 home runs and steal 15-25 bases seem easy to find and not very exciting to keep on a fantasy roster. But what if we had reason to believe there was something more on the horizon? I see a lot of bounce back potential in Cameron Maybin.
Maybin seems to have been labeled everything between hyped prospect, “AAAA” player, and just plain waiver wire fodder in a short amount of time. He is obviously fast, athletic, and still has the potential for power (his 485ft. homer was one of the longest of 2012), but last year was hard to swallow. I traded for him in a keeper league early in the year mainly because of his age and potential. As the 2012 season wore on I was torn between releasing him and waiting for an improvement.
A horrible batting average and lower steals numbers coupled with some minor injuries (hand/heel) made a bad year seem even worse. Frustrated, I released him into free agency. Then something happened. In early July, he made a small adjustment to his approach at the plate and started to hit again. So I went right back and picked him up at $5, which is the minimum price to keep a player in our league.
There will be some talk about the fences being moved in at PETCO Park when it comes to Maybin’s power numbers, and there is some good reason to believe that an increase in homers could be coming. Maybin hit 6 of his 8 homers last year to left center, which is one of the areas being moved in by about 10 feet. Using ESPN’s homerun tracker with a park overlay, you can see that 7 of Maybin’s 8 homers would have been out in the old PETCO anyway, so he’s got the distance already and the new dimensions may help him tack on a few extra dingers.
There are signs of better things to come for Maybin’s batting average as well. His K rate is trending down over the last 3 years from a high 28.6% to 19.6%, his contact rate has improved from 73% to 80%, and his walk rate has remained steady at about 8%. He will also turn just 26 on April 4th, and personally I think his athleticism can take him a long way.
In a keeper league, I want the guys with all the potential energy. So I am keeping Maybin thinking he will bounce back and earn at least twice the $5 I am currently paying him in 2013 and possibly even more as he enters his prime years. In non-keeper leagues he’s a late round bargain since he will probably fall far from where he was drafted after his great 2011 season. I’m thinking 3rd OF type of production from a guy you might be able to draft into your 4th or 5th OF slot and the potential to get nice production across the board for a good price is what it’s all about.