In case you haven’t heard, and you are doing it wrong if you’re using us for breaking news, the Padres and Cameron Maybin agreed on a five-year extension worth $25 million and an option for a sixth year. For the first time since 2007, the Padres have locked up a young player and made jersey-purchasing decisions easy for the rest of us.
This is a great moment for Padre fans but there is a question that I can’t quite shake: Who exactly did the Padres just lock up? Literally, they locked up Cameron Keith Maybin from Asheville, North Carolina but that’s not what I meant and you know it.
Comparisons are a big part of extensions and word is that extension talk got off to a slow start with Hoyer because he wasn’t happy with the comps Maybin’s agent was making. With a new GM, and a new agent for Maybin, those problems seem to have been cleared up but it still cuts to the heart of the mystique of Maybin.
Two months ago, MLB Trade Rumors looked into Maybin themselves and threw out the names Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Tabata, and Denard Span as comparisons. All three are defensive-minded outfielders with varying degrees of power even if none of the three will ever take part in a Home Run Derby. The three of them averaged five years and $17.25 million, so why did the Padres give Maybin eight million more?
At 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Maybin wears a mean pair of jeans. It’s easy to look at him and see Mike Cameron, a premiere defensive center fielder and perennial 25/25 guy. And it’s easy to think that Maybin sees himself the same way. When he’s at the plate, he takes hacks, which is a big reason why he struck 125 times last year. His career 25.5% K/9 is just a bit above Cameron’s 24.1%. However, whenever Cameron did make contact, he hit the ball in the air. When Maybin does, he keeps it on the ground. Over the course of his career, Maybin’s hit the ball on the ground 406 times, or 54.5%. Since 2009, the only player to hit the ball on the ground half the time (and this is out of 31 players) to average more than 20 home runs is Hunter Pence. Among the other 30 names, we see a lot of players like Elvis Andrus and the aforementioned Span. And Maybin actually comes in at eight, right behind Juan Pierre.
Fortunately, Maybin is incredibly fast so hitting on the ball isn’t that bad of an idea. Last year, he was second only to Ichiro in infield hits with 30. Maybe Bud Black should take a fictional page out of Lou Brown’s book and assign Maybin twenty pushups for every ball he hits in the air. You know, if that’s what he wants.
This could all be a moot point. Maybin could come in this year and smash shot after shot off of the Western Metal building. Or he could continue to do what he do and chase fifty steals in the process. Either way sounds good to me, I just hope nobody minds if it’s the latter, particularly the ones signing the checks.