It never ceases to astound me how a ballplayer, and not just a baseball player, but one in any professional sport, can have a mediocre career of several years, and then out of the blue have one good season, and suddenly years of bad performance are forgotten as teams clamor over the guy, either trading for him or throwing baskets of free agent money his way. Don’t they look back a few season? Don’t they suspect something when his current team is so willing to trade him, sometimes for relatively little in return? This is what happened with the Angels’ deal for Cameron Maybin, a one-time big-time prospect that never was much good, until 2016 and a solid half-season of success. Will he ever duplicate that? Doubtful, very, very doubtful.
A year ago the Angels tried to piecemeal their vast crevice in left field with the likes of
Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Rafael Ortega, Shane Robinson and even Rule 5 first baseman Ji-Man Choi. How did that work out? COMBINED they hit .208 with seven home runs and 44 RBI, but five of the homers and 12 of the RBI came from Choi who did some of that while playing first base.
Over his first nine major league seasons with four different teams, Maybin hit .251 and averaged four home runs and 23 RBI per season. He did steal 40 bases back in 2011 while in San Diego. In 2016 he hit .315, 64 points above his lifetime, and hit his four homers and drove in 43 over 94 games. He also hit .194 over 115 minor league at bats last season before Detroit, for whatever foolish reason, decided he should again play in the major leagues. Maybin will be 30 the first week of the 2017 season.
I’ll bet the farm that Maybin not only will hit nowhere near .315 next year, and that he will not even come close to his lifetime average which 2016 raised to .261. The Angels have lots of needs for 2017, especially on the mound, but left field has been a disaster for them, and Maybin is NO solution. Nava and Gentry are gone from the Angels’ roster, but Ortega and Robinson remain, as does Choi. Conceivably the right-hand hitting Maybin could platoon
with lefties Ortega or Choi, and as frightening as that may sound, it’s an infinitely better option than handing the full time spot to Maybin.
A much better option would be giving the job to Jefry Marte. A first baseman-third baseman by trade, Marte did play some in left for the Angels last season, and he hit well after his mid-season call up, showing power with 15 home runs in 258 at bats. With a healthy Albert Pujols finding the fountain of youth last year, and with C.J. Cron now a fixture in the lineup, there appears to be little room for Marte at either first base or DH, or at third with Yunel Escobar coming off his great season, so this would look like the natural and best move.