Padres Editorial: In Defense of Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and a Poll

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Sep 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin (24) hits a two RBI single during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Loeks: In Defense of Cameron Maybin

In 2007, Cameron Maybin was a can’t miss prospect at the center of a trade between the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins for future triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera and standout pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Fast forward a disappointing three seasons, and the Florida Marlins shipped Maybin to the San Diego Padres for relief pitchers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. Now with the Padres it seemed like Maybin had finally put it all together posting a WAR of 4.5 and 3.0 in 2011 and 2012.

2013 and 2014 were back to back injury-riddled seasons that seemed to derail any progress he had made in his previous two. However, I believe fully healthy, there is no reason to think that Maybin cannot get back to a place to where he is 3-4 WAR player which is fantastic for a fourth outfielder.

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If we look at the other two candidates, they have not even approached a season this productive. Venable’s best season WAR is 1.2 and Almonte (in limited PA’s) has only achieved a WAR of 0.2 in his best season.

However, taking a look a WAR may not be the best choice when determining who should be the best outfielder. Let’s take a look how each player ranks when it comes to what the tools scouts look at (arm strength, speed, glove, average and power) to determine which player would be the best option in 2015.

First arm strength, in my opinion the best determination for arm strength is the stat percentage of runners held. As a baseline let’s use Vladimir Guerrero a player known for a great defensive arm, and over his career he held 48.8% of baserunners who had the opportunity to advance. Maybin has had mediocre success holding batters from taking the extra base only allowing 282 in 634 plate appearances for a percentage held of 44.5%, this is just below the major league average of 45%.

Will Venable on the other hand has been pretty poor at holding base runners with a 41.5% held average. On the other end of the spectrum, Abraham Almonte has been excellent at this, holding an amazing 49.3% of baserunners in very limited opportunities. So, for arm strength it is Almonte winning, followed by Maybin and Venable in last.

Secondly is speed, in terms of speed I prefer just looking at stolen bases especially for a fourth outfielder since being a pinch runner will be a big part of their role with the team. First, let’s start with Almonte, since he doesn’t have enough plate appearance for a 162-game season, I will average his stats out to a 162-game season. In 162 games, he would steal 10 bases, not horrible but not great either. In Venable’s best season, he stole 29 bases which is good, showing he has legit major league speed. Finally let’s look at Maybin, who in his best season stole 40 bags, which is fantastic and definitely gives him the win in the speed category, so for speed the winner is Maybin, followed by Venable, then Almonte.

The third tool is glove, and for this I decided to look at career Rtot/yr which is the number of defensive runs above or below average the player has been. All three of the players have positive Rtot/yr with Abraham Almonte leading the way with an outstanding 24, Maybin coming in second with 8 and Veneble in the rear with an Rtot/yr of 4. So the for glove it is Almonte winning, followed by Maybin and Veneble in last.

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Average is a great skill for a backup outfielder to have. The ability to come in for the pitcher or another batter and get a hit off the bench is key. In order to determine who has the best average, I looked at two stats: career average and strikeout percentage. After reviewing this, I found that Venable leads the way with a .255 career batting average, but comes in second with a 23.7% strikeout percentage.

After this, we find Maybin with a .246 career batting average and a 22.8% strikeout % (ahead of Venable). While Almonte trails both of his competitors with a .239 career batting average and a 26.8% strikeout rate. Looking at these stats, we find Venable in first, Maybin in second and Almonte in third when it comes to average.

Finally we come to the last tool: power. For this, I decided to look at career slugging percentage. What I found was that Venable leads the way with a .414 slugging percentage, followed by Maybin with .356 and finally we find Almonte at .351.

The final step to proving which player should be the starter is giving them a score from 1-3 based on which place they were at each tool. The scores for each player are as follows, Maybin at 9, Venable at 10 and Almonte at 11.

What this tells me is Maybin is the all-around best player of the three, and should be the fourth outfielder heading into 2015, especially since his biggest weakness has been durability and a limited role may help him excel in 2015.