Carlos Quentin – He was that guy from your high school who was incredible at everything. He was Lance Harbor before the injury, or Jason Street. You name it, Quentin did it. He was an amazing football player, was on a state champion high school basketball team, and was the San Diego Male Athlete of the Year in 2000.

He took his talents to Stanford, where he continued his success (Stanford made the championship game in 2003) with new teammates Sam Fuld and Jed Lowrie. He finished his career at Stanford with a .350 average, 35 bombs, 170 RBIs, and 26 SBs in just 199 games. Oh and he married an All-American track runner.

The Diamondbacks selected Quentin with the 29th pick in the 2003 draft. Unfortunately, he had to sit out 2003 because of Tommy John surgery – a slight non-Lance Harbor type of injury. In 2004, he came back with a vengeance, destroying minor league pitching to the tune of a .332/.435/.549 line.

He easily earned the promotion to AAA the following season and again excelled: .301/.422/.522. Before 2006, he was named the 20th best prospect throughout the minor leagues.

He was quickly promoted to the majors in 2006, and hit a homer in his third major league at bat. In 191 MLB plate appearances that year, he held his own with a .253/.342/.530 line with nine homers.

After that, unfortunately, is where things began to unravel. Quentin partially tore his labrum in Spring Training the next year, delaying his season debut to mid-April. He struggled early and was demoted to AAA on July 6.

Back amongst the boys, this man returned to his dominating self. Quentin looked prime for a rebound in 2008. However, the Diamondbacks thought otherwise and shipped him to Chicago for Chris Carter (then a low A first baseman at the top of the Sox prospect list). Carter was then packaged with a few other familiar names (Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez and others) and sent to Oakland for Dan Haren.

While the Sox had not had the best track record in deals with the Diamondbacks of late, this was a clear win. Fully healthy, Quentin stormed out of the gates and put together a sterling final line: .288/.394/.571 and 36 HRs. These numbers could have been even better if Quentin had not hurt himself by slamming his bat in anger on September 5. The injury was severe enough to require surgery, and thereby end Quentin’s season prematurely.

Healthy, Quentin started well in 2009, but then began to suffer from plantar fasciitis and soon found himself on the DL finishing with a rocky and unimpressive season.

The next season wasn’t much different. Quentin was mostly healthy, but incredibly streaky. While playing poor defense, he finished with a .243/.342/.479 line.

At this point, he looked like a source for decent power but not much else. However, when looking deeper, he did have a poor (by his standards) .241 BABIP that season, which could have caused some of the horrid average. Of course, he just wasn’t hitting the ball with authority. His line drive rate was a putrid 13.9% (the lowest of his career) and he was swinging and missing more than he had previously with the White Sox. That said, his ground ball rate didn’t really spike and his HR/FB rate was still hovering around a perfectly normal 14%. It wouldn’t be hard to paint 2010 as somewhat flukey in the wrong direction.

Sure enough, in 2011, Quentin’s BABIP is .268, his average is a serviceable .261 and he has hit 20 HRs. Quentin is an elite power source. He is capable of pacing 35 HRs and maintaining a non-lethal average.

Cameron Maybin – He was(is) the next Ken Griffey, Jr. – at least according to some of his early managers. And, early on, this didn’t appear to be an offensive exaggeration. As a high school player in 2004, Maybin was the Connie Mack World Series MVP, won that tournament’s batting title, and was voted the 2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year.

He entered the MLB draft after high school and was selected 10th overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2005. In A ball, at just 19-years-old, Maybin was a force: .304/.387/.457 with nine HRs and 27 steals. Sure, he struck out 116 times in 445 plate appearances, but he was young, he was Nuke Laloosh.

He followed his 2006 minor league destruction campaign with an equally impressive 2007 season. Spread across Rookie, A+ and AA ball, Maybin hit .316/.409/.523 – what’s more, he limited his Ks and increased his walks.

Numbers like this are hard to ignore; Maybin quickly earned an espresso in the majors. While his final line was unimpressive (.143/.208/.265) with 21 Ks and just three walks, the talent was there. In his second game for the Tigers, Maybin got his first hit (a single), homer, and stolen base. The hits came off Roger Clemens, who promptly plunked him in after his homer.

That offseason, he was the sixth ranked prospect and one of the major pieces the Tigers used to acquire Miguel Cabrera and his attendant baggage (Dontrelle Willis). The Marlins put Maybin in AA, where he was okay (.277/.375/.456), but not great (124 Ks and only 60 walks).

In 2009, the Marlins started him in centerfield on opening day. However, he struggled a bit and was demoted to AAA. He succeeded immensely there (.319/.399/.463 with just 58 Ks to 38 walks in 343 plate appearances) and rejoined the Marlins later in the season. Ultimately, he accumulated 199 MLB plate appearances in which he showed promise (.250/.318/.409) with 51 Ks and 17 walks.

He again would scuffle in the majors and dominate minor league pitching in 2010. Throughout his minor league career, Maybin deservedly earned an amazing amount of honors:

•    Twice an All-Star Futures Game selection
•    Arizona Fall League Rising Stars
•    Southern League Mid-Season All-Star
•    Baseball America High Class A All-Star
•    Florida State League Postseason All-Star
•    Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star
•    Baseball America Low Class A All-Star
•    Midwest League Prospect of the Year

Not enough for the Marlins, who apparently though they had a better centerfielder in the organization, the organization dealt Maybin to San Diego for a couple of relievers in the offseason. For the Padres, Maybin has maintained his walk rate north of 7% and cut down on his Ks. While that is important, his BABIP is high (.353), given no change in his contact and line drive rates.

Still, Maybin is just 24 years old and on his way to putting up a .272/.329/.410 line with double digits homers and 37-40 steals. He’ll be good for several wins above a replacement player and could be a breakout player next season. Currently he’s a better real life player than fantasy, but he should help with steals down the stretch, which makes him a nice subtle move in keeper/dynasty leagues.

I’m a major believer in Maybin long-term as an Ellsbury-lite.

Emilio Bonifacio – At just 16, Bonifacio was signed by Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. He’d make his debut two years later and hit quite poorly in A ball (.199/.298/.219).

The following season, again at A ball, Bonifacio showed a little more promise (.260/.306/.319) with 122 Ks against just 25 walks. He repeated the level the following season and acquitted himself well. By cutting down on his Ks and increasing his walks, Bonifacio was able to post a .270/.341/.330 line with 55 steals.

In 2006 he started at A+ and took off: .321/.375/.449 with 61 steals and 104 Ks against 44 walks.  The following year, at AA, Bonifacio began to look like a future major leaguer: .285/.333/.352 with 41 steals. In fact, these numbers earned him his first cup of coffee later that season, appearing in 11 games for the Diamondbacks, though not doing anything of positive note.

Bonifacio returned to Tucson the following year and continued to play well (.302/.348/.387). So well, in fact, that the Diamondbacks dealt him to the Washington Nationals for Jon Rauch later that season. Bonifacio continued to play well for the Nationals AAA club (.452/.500/.516) in the eight games after the trade and was quickly called up. He didn’t do much for the Nats in the majors, but didn’t look completely lost out there either (.248/.305/.344).

The Nats parlayed Bonifacio’s potential into Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen before the 2009 season. The Marlins installed Bonifacio as their everyday third baseman that year and he started off with a bang by hitting an inside the park homer on Opening Day. While his first month created quite a stir, his season ended up rather pedestrian (.252/.303/.308 with 21 steals in 30 chances).

The following season, he split time between the majors and minors and didn’t do anything particularly special (aside from going a perfect 12/12 in SB attempts).

Still, going into 2011, he was just 26 and the Marlins envisioned him as a sort of super utility guy. Indeed, he has played everywhere, and has looked quite good (.297/.373/.381 with 23 steals in 27 attempts). He is also 37 for his last 96 with 26 runs and 18 steals in that stretch. Of course, he also has a ridiculous .478 BABIP over the last 28 days.

While Bonifacio has typically had a highish BABIP throughout his career, his .375 mark this season is a bit otherworldly given his contact and line drive rates. Bonifacio is not a complete mirage; he has increased his walk rate and cut down on his Ks. So, Bonifacio remains a fine player, capable of hitting .275 with 35-40 steals. Obviously, his recent hot streak is a nice thing to ride, but think of him more as a middling average player, with no pop, who can steal a decent amount of bases. Basically, he’s a Juan Pierre-lite (you know back when Juan Pierre was sort of good at baseball).

  1. Urban Achievers says:

    How would you go about adjusting BABIP for line drive %? Put Rudy on it!

  2. Not sure how that would happen – would it be all that necessary though?

    I use BABIP as just a rough tool/one part of the equation.

    If you see a dramatically increased BABIP without any change in the batted ball rates, then it’s likely a product of some additional balls finding holes. there’s a chance its not, but typically it signals there will be a regression in the future.

    The thing to note with Bonifacio and Maybin is their speed, which helps with beating out infield hits. In addition, their ballparks should allow for more fly balls to fall than some with shorter porches, so because of those two factors, it’s possible they’ll experience higher BABIP than you would otherwise think. Still, the rate they are going it seems a tad unrealistic.

  3. Urban Achievers says:

    I agree. BABIP is very valuable but at the same time, it fails to account for a lot of relevant information. For example, does the player play most of his games in a park like Coors or Petco? Is he fast or slow? does he tend to hit more line drives, thus intrinsically inflating his BABIP? you need to look at ALL the Sabers, not just one

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