Champ or Chump: Cameron Maybin

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This time of year, it is easy to think only about the big names who are on the move, the Chris Sales and Andrew McCutchens of the world. Once the season starts up again, however, role players make a larger impact collectively on who plays in October.

The same principle applies to the fantasy game. As exciting as it may be to call Sale's name in the second round, the selection will not win you your league. Everyone gets good players early on.

Your team is differentiated by its complimentary pieces, the sleepers who break out and the relatively boring talents you snagged for a discount.

Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

2017 Fantasy Baseball Outlook - Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin deserves your attention as a part of the latter group. Owners may glance at Maybin's .315/.383/.418 line in 391 PAs last year and think he is a superstar. They'll then look at his .383 BABIP, scream regression, and leave some other "sucker" to waste a roster spot on him. This would be an example of applying sabermetrics incorrectly.

While it is true that Maybin probably will not run a .380+ BABIP again, he profiles as a plus BABIP guy. He almost never hits the ball into the air (21.7% FB% after a 20% mark in 2015) and pops it up even less often (5% IFFB% last year). He has plus legs, so his .314 BABIP on grounders last year should be mostly repeatable. With a GB% of 56.5%, that BABIP will help Maybin's overall line more than most. He has a career BABIP of .322, so regressing him all the way to .300 is unwise.

Maybin also understands the strike zone, posting a career best 9.2% BB% and strong 17.6% K% in 2016. Advanced metrics support these numbers, as his 25.6% O-Swing% was very good while his 7.8% SwStr% was a career best. Maybin's plus BABIP and low strikeout rate should mean a .290ish hitter next year, a mark that would make him a solid contributor in the category. He'll also walk enough to pad his SB totals.

Maybin's 15 SBs (against six CS) last year weren't great, but he swiped 23 (against six CS) in 2015 and as many as 40 in a single season (2011). Detroit did not run much last year, finishing 23rd in SBs with only 58 as a team. The Angels stole 73, good for 17th. I think he runs more next year than last.

His new team should also allow him to push for 100 Runs scored. The Angels depth is nonexistent, so a .290 hitter with speed who walks should crack the top of their order. That means the great Mike Trout and Albert Pujols' still strong slugging percentage will drive him in consistently. Maybin also won't need to worry about playing time, as the team's 40-man roster includes only one non-starting OFer. His name is Ryan LaMarre, and he has 30 career MLB ABs going into his age 29 season.

The power that scouts once thought Maybin would develop is clearly never coming, but he'll still make a real contribution in average (or OBP), steals, and runs. He's the perfect choice to balance out a power-laden team late in a draft, so don't forget about him in the wake of breaking news concerning bigger names.

Verdict: Champ