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June 8, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Stanton Fallout

by Craig Brown

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As we anxiously await the arrival of Mike Stanton on fantasy waiver wires across the land, we should take a moment to sort out what this means to the former prospect he’ll be replacing in the Marlins lineup.  Once upon a time, Cameron Maybin was in Stanton’s shoes.  Prior to the 2009 season, Maybin was a five-star prospect and was the jewel of the Marlins system.  Overall, he was ranked as the 11th best prospect in baseball, while Stanton was nipping at his heels at number 13.    

This is the second time in as many seasons Maybin has had an audition of nearly 200 plate appearances, and this is the second time he’s failed to pass “Go.”

Technically, that’s not entirely accurate.  His first audition lasted only through May 10 of last year when he started 23 games for the Marlins and hit just .202/.280/.310 in 95 plate appearances.  He struck out in nearly 33% of those PAs before he was shipped to Triple-A New Orleans.  With Cody Ross playing well and Chris Coghlan on the road to his Rookie of the Year award, Maybin was stuck in the IL where he hit .319/.399/.463 and worked on cutting down his strikeouts to a more respectable 17%. He posted a .279 TAv and a 3.6 WARP in his three and a half month tour in the minors.  He returned to Miami> when rosters expanded September 1 and finished with a stretch where he hit .293/.353/.500 and continued to keep his strikeouts under control at 19%.  Overall, Maybin posted a .252 TAv and a 0.7 WARP last year.  His TAv ranked him 35th out of 45 center fielders with at least 100 plate appearances.

While Maybin owns a .295 BABIP this year, once again he has been hampered by the fact he just doesn’t put enough balls in play.  Just 61% of all plate appearances ended with the ball in play this year, which is the exact same rate he posted in 2009... Far too low.  Again, it’s the strikeout that’s the culprit.  Maybin is swinging and missing at 20% of all strikes and ultimately whiffing in 28% of his plate appearances this year.  His TAv is a miserable .230 and his WARP has dropped to -1.3.  

While early in the season it looked to be a battle between Maybin and Coghlan as to whom Stanton would replace, lately Coghlan has found his groove, hitting .341/.380/.518 over his last 92 plate appearances.  He’s advancing to the mean and pushed his TAv to .245, but he’s still striking out in almost 22% of his PA’s during this surge, which matches his strikeout rate precisely for the entire year.  That’s up from last season’s rate of 13.6%.  

Coghlan didn’t collect his first extra base hit until plate appearance number 114 (May 10th) and a huge part of that reason was an elevated ground ball rate.  He put 53% of all batted balls on the ground in the season’s opening month and an incredible 63% in May.  This month, he’s turned that ratio on it’s head, powering a line drive 33% of the time while he’s put the ball on the ground in just under 40% of all batted balls.  It’s no coincidence he has five extra base hits (four doubles and a home run) in 28 plate appearances this month.  If this were Survivor, his June performance granted Coghlan immunity.

With a .286 TAv and 1.6 WARP, Ross has been the most productive Marlins outfielder, so his job is safe for the time being.

This means for now, it’s Maybin who is out of a starting job.

The fantasy decisions here are fairly straightforward:  Drop Maybin in all single-season formats if you haven’t already. If you’re in the position where you can hang onto Maybin in a keeper league, that’s an option I’d explore at this point.  Despite the frustration, we are talking about a grand total of 450 plate appearances for a player who didn't get the development time in the minors he needed and just turned 23 a couple of months ago.  Once he figures how to control the strikezone at this level, I still see an upside of a .295 TAv and about four or five wins above replacement.  He did a fair job in his tour of Triple-A last summer with his 17% K rate, so I expect him to eventually get it in the majors. Eventually.

As for Coghlan, he was a streaky hitter last year, so if you’re inclined, jump onboard.  However, his strikeout rate in June is still far too high - 28% - and if those line drives turn into ground balls like they were in April and the first part of May, we’ll go right back to square one.  I’m thinking his current hot streak is much shorter than the one he rode in the second half of last year.  Buyer beware.

Craig Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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Prospectus Q&A: Dallas... (06/08)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: A Closer... (06/07)
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