The projection systems of choice seem to really like Cameron Maybin. It’s an oddity, given the fact that Maybin played so poorly at the start of last season. I wanted to take a quick look at the projection lines of the sources available to us from FanGraphs and see what all the fuss is about.
One of the big things that intrigues me about Maybin’s offensive line is his walk rate. Both CHONE and Bill James project walk rates over 10%, with CHONE at 11.2%. That would have been good for second on the team last year behind Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida. Maybin has yet to post such a walk rate in the majors, with a career rate in 288 PA of 8.0%. Last season, according to Minor League Splits, Maybin posted an MLE walk rate of 8.3%. At the moment, I feel this may be the most optimistic of projected parts of Maybin’s game in 2010.
The strikeout rates, which have always been a concern in Maybin’s game, have been projected to be a bit toned down. A 25% K% in the majors over 429 PA is the least of our concerns with Maybin, but such a rate would depend on other factors to bring that up. Luckily, overall CHONE projects a .366 OBP, meaning that those K’s are not generally accompanied by a ton of normal outs.
The problem with that is the projected .370 BABIP in that line on Maybin’s FanGraphs page. I love Maybin’s speed as much the next guy, but it seems highly improbable that he would put up such a line. In 2009, only six players posted a BABIP higher than .370. Given that this is such a rare feat, I doubt that any given projection could guess that Maybin would be one of the 98th percentile of the population of MLB players to accomplish that feat. Dropping that to a more conservative .325 BABIP could strip as much as 12 hits out of the CHONE-projected 106. Assuming they’re all singles, that would translate to a .249/.338/.405 line, far less impressive. The Fans provide a more conservative .343 BABIP; undergoing the same process gives us a slash of .262/.350/.418. Note that that line corresponds fairly nicely to the overall Fans projection.
I’d be happy with that slash line. Using some approximate wOBA weights, I get a wOBA of around .338, corresponding to some 3.5 runs above average in 550 PA. Combining the best of CHONE’s projected walk rates with my preferred BABIP gives us more or less the projected wOBA I would have expected from Maybin, basically an average offensive player.
If you liked the .325 BABIP better, it doesn’t change too badly. The projected wOBA then becomes .327, which in 550 PA gives you around 1.5 runs below average, a difference of five runs, or a half a win.
On defense, I can trust CHONE and the Fans, both of whom think fairly highly of Myabin. CHONE gives him +6 runs in only 125 games, while the Fans are more tempered at +5 runs in 130 games. I had him at +1 runs per 150 games, so if you take the averages here, you get around 4.5 runs per 150 games. I like that, that seems reasonable. In around 135 games, you may expect a 4.2 runs above average. Tack on the positional adjustment and you’ve got some six runs better than average in just 135 games.
The Grand Total
My mashed-up projection of various systems shows a pretty efficient player, even with some tempering of those grandiose (in my opinion) offensive projections. Maybin looks like a 2.8 WAR player in only 135 games! While the Fans and the systems are more generous than even that, I’d be willing to put my bets on that number. Even after toning down everything, the answer to the question of Maybin as a three-win player appears to be “yes,” or at the very least “it’s certainly possible.” And of course, it just goes to show you how valuable a player who appears to be just above average can be. Someone with a .262/.350/.418 line can be of great worth to a team. Note that if we went by the .325 BABIP, you come up with 2.3 WAR, more or less an average player. Either way, I think the team would happy to take that.