To Breakout or Not to Breakout: That Is the Question Facing Cameron Maybin

Eric StashinSenior Writer IFebruary 5, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08:  Cameron Maybin #24 of the San Diego Padres connects on a first inning infield single against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 8, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cameron Maybin is going to be a highly sought after “breakout” candidate as we head into 2012.  We have long heard about his power/speed combination.  Now, after showing signs of living up to his potential over his final 250 AB in 2011 (.268, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 44 R, 28 SB), are we to expect him to fully emerge as one of the elite outfielders in the game?

I wouldn’t be too quick to draw that conclusion.  First, let’s look at his overall numbers from 2011:

516 At Bats
.264 Batting Average (136 Hits)
9 Home Runs
40 RBI
82 Runs
40 Stolen Bases
.323 On Base Percentage
.393 Slugging Percentage
.331 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Outside of his stolen base total, does anything in those numbers scream elite?  If you are going to be an outfielder with all speed and little power (and playing in Petco Park and continually posting a ground ball rate of nearly 55 percent, there’s no reason to think that’s going to change) you need to bring something else to the table (i.e. average or runs scored).  Unfortunately, as of right now, there is no reason to think that he’s going to do that.

In regards to the average, unless he posts a significantly luckier BABIP, there is nothing that is screaming to us that he is going to take a major step forward.  In 2011 he posted a 22 percent strikeout rate, an improvement over his past (25.2 percent for his career), but hardly enough.  Considering he posted a 23.2 percent strikeout rate over his minor league career, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

You couple that with his continuous inability to hit the ball with authority (15.9 percent line drive rate in 2011) and lack of power and you are simply hoping that he hits .270 once again.  The fact is that he is hardly a lock to do it.

The other issue is that for someone with a lot of speed, how many runs is he really going to score?  The Padres offense is going to be weak once again, even with the acquisitions of Yonder Alonso and Carlos Quentin, so if Maybin was hitting in the lead-off spot, he may not reach 95 R scored.  He just doesn’t get on base enough or have the consistent bats behind him.  The fact that he appears locked into hitting in the middle of the lineup just makes things that much worse.

While that will bring with it more RBI opportunities, do we really think he’s going to be an RBI force?  He moved all around the lineup in 2011, spending 191 AB hitting third, fourth or fifth.  His total RBI in that time?  A grand total of 19.  If you want to push it to him hitting third through seventh, Maybin had 344 AB and drove in an “impressive” 28 RBI. 

The fact of the matter is that when you look at Maybin, you have to look at him as an option that is going to provide you with SB (no matter where he hits in the order), but not much else.  Is there upside?  Absolutely, but I wouldn’t value him as anything more than an OF3 at best and more of a depth option in shallower formats.  There’s just not enough there in the other categories at this point. 

What are your thoughts of Maybin?  Do you think he’ll break out in 2012?  Why type of numbers are you expecting from him?

Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: