Cameron Maybin was among Baseball America’s top-10 prospects for three straight years (2007-2009), and he was part of the group of prospects the Detroit Tigers sent to the Florida Marlins in December of 2007 for Miguel Cabrera. But it took another trade, to the San Diego Padres after the 2010 season, for him to find a home in the big leagues and he had 66 stolen bases in the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined.
Maybin’s 2013 season was derailed by a right wrist issue that eventually required surgery, and then a left knee issue kept him out of the lineup shortly after he returned to action. Overall he played just 14 games for the Padres last season, and he finished with a .157 batting average, one home run, five RBI and four stolen bases over 57 plate appearances.
Maybin has reportedly said he is feeling better than he has since his first spring training with the Padres, and but will 2014 be the year he finally puts it all together and becomes a top option for fantasy baseball owners?
Maybin has just a .248 career batting average in over 1,600 major league at-bats, but when we last saw him in extended action he hit .287 from July 2 on to end the 2012 season, along with a .335 on-base percentage (.311 career) and a .414 slugging percentage (.370 career) over that span. So any optimism about a potential breakout heading into last season may simply be postponed a year.
Maybin is still just 26 years old, and it’s worth noting for fantasy owners that buy into the “age 27″ breakout for hitters that he will turn 27 in early April. He also has a fairly unabated path to being San Diego’s Opening Day center fielder, as long as last season’s injuries are behind him. It’s worth noting that Maybin topped 500 at-bats in both 2011 and 2012, so the perceived injury risk attached to him may not be as great as it seems.
Stolen bases will be the driving force for Maybin’s fantasy value, and if he can take more walks (7.7 percent career walk rate) and strike out less (74.4 percent career contact rate) a return to the 40-steal plateau he reached in 2011 is within reach this year. A dismal batting average may keep him out of a regular spot near the top of the Padres’ lineup, which will hurt his runs scored total, but I’m comfortable projecting 10-15 home runs, 50-60 RBI, around 60 runs scored and 30-plus stolen bases for Maybin in 2014.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.