The Yasmani Grandal saga and the Friars’ Starting Rotation Shakeup are bound to be the two biggest story-lines coming out of Peoria this Spring. And honestly, why shouldn’t they be? I mean, it’s not every year that a franchise’s future star is busted, and subsequently suspended for the first 50 games of a regular season due to a PED violation. Moreover, it is of the utmost importance that Manager Bud Black and Pitching Coach Darren Balsley are able find a way to cobble together an effective Starting Pitching staff before April begins.
Aside from Grandal and the Starting Staff, I am also intrigued to see another Padres-related question answered once the regular season begins:
Will Cameron Maybin avoid an early season slump at the plate?
To be perfectly frank, the months of March, April, May, and June were anything but kind to the Padres’ Centerfielder in 2012. In fact, Cameron had more than his fair share of issues over those four crucial months. Worst of all was the fact that Maybin struggled so mightily after he signed a contract worth $25 million over 5-years during Spring Training.
Over Maybin’s first 73 Games, he hit a dreadful .204 in 260 At-Bats to go along with 6 Doubles, 4 Triples, 3 Home Runs, and 23 RBI’s. Although Maybin’s 16 Stolen Bases were a solid number, he amassed 60 Strikeouts and only 27 Walks during that span to go along with a .282 On-Base Percentage and a .292 Slugging Percentage.
In fact, on June 28th, Maybin was sitting with a .198 Batting Average! Had Maybin not finished the month of June going 3 for his last 8 over his final two games, he would have finished with a Batting Average below .200! To the Centerfielder’s credit though, he turned things around from an Offensive standpoint during the months of July, August, and September last year. In fact, over his final 74 games during those three months, Maybin seemed to improve production-wise in almost every major Offensive category.
Overall, Maybin posted a .283 Batting Average over 247 At-Bats in addition to 14 Doubles, 1 Triple, 5 Home Runs, and 22 RBI’s. Despite the fact that his Strikeout to Walk ratio was still high (50 to 17) during said span, Maybin still recorded a .333 On-Base Percentage, and a .409 Slugging Percentage to go along with 10 Stolen Bases to close the season.
As enjoyable as it was to watch Maybin, along with the rest of the Padres’ struggling hitters, get back on track, San Diego was essentially out of postseason contention back in June. The team started off so poorly at the plate that the Friars were never really able to recover in the standings despite their late-season ability to win more games than they lost. “Too little…too late” would probably be the best way to describe San Diego’s hitters last year as their efforts down the stretch did not make up for their production, or lack thereof, during the months of April and May.
Every team could stand to use a talented combination of speed, power, and base-running savvy from the #7 spot in the batting order. Interestingly enough, that is the type of skill-set which Maybin can bring to the table when he is playing well. Overall, Cameron possesses the necessary tools to be an explosive table-setter for the Friars, and can even chip in when it comes to driving Runs across when the need presents itself. But when close to half of the year is spent with Maybin languishing and trying to hit above “The Mendoza Line,” it certainly does not benefit him and the lineup around him in the least bit.
Maybin has already suffered one setback this Spring, and his wrist injury is projected to keep him out for a short period of time. I have no idea how this will affect his performance by the time Opening Day rolls around, but it certainly cannot help him in any way, shape, or form. Hopefully the Padres’ Centerfielder is able to begin the 2013 season “hot,” and maintain his success at the plate throughout the regular season. Thus, another big 2013 regular season question will be:
Will 2013 finally be the year that Cameron Maybin produces consistently as a hitter?
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference