When “LOST” premiered in 2004 it set ratings records for Part 1 of the pilot (18.4 million) and became an instant hit for ABC. By Season 3, to many, the shine had worn off on the show as it meandered through plot lines and mysteries that appeared to have no direction and it started to look like answers weren’t coming. By the end, only the diehards were left when the Flash Sideways was revealed to be (spoiler alert) a post-life purgatory and that back in the real world Hurley was the new Jacob.
And by now you are probably wondering what “LOST” has to do with Cameron Maybin, the Padres, or really, anything in 2013. It’s because I love both irrationally. To the bitter end.
Like “LOST,” Cameron Maybin began his career to much fanfare. In 2004 he was named Baseball America’s Youth Player of the Year (an award they did away with in 2007 for some reason). He very likely would have been the 2005 Player of the Year had it not been for a shortstop in Chesapeake, VA named Justin Upton.
Maybin was drafted 10th overall to the Detroit Tigers in 2005 after being considered the top hitting OF prospect in that year’s draft and the 3rd best hitting prospect of the draft overall. In case you didn’t click the link, here’s a few names that Baseball America ranked below Cameron Maybin: Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen. Scout.com, after the Tigers selected Maybin, said this:
Maybin is one of those rare high school talents that people talk about for years.
Widely considered one of the top three talents in the entire draft, the Tigers appear to have gotten a steal with this selection.
Maybin was consistently considered the Tigers top prospect until he made his debut in 2007. The hype and potential around Maybin led the Tigers to package him (along with Andrew Miller and 4 other players) in a deal to Florida to bring Dontrelle Willis and Mr. Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera. Three years later it took only Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb to bring Maybin to the Padres.
Despite being one of the most highly regarded offensive prospects in the 2005 draft, Maybin has never hit over .264 in a season where he got more than 100 ABs. He has never had double digit HRs for a year.
In his breakout season of 2011, Maybin’s slash line looked like this: .264/.323/.393. Modest by any standard. What that slash line doesn’t show is the 40 bases he stole that year or the 8.4 Fld (Fielding Runs Above Average). This all culminated in a WAR of 4.2 and a 5 yr/$25 million contract.
Naturally, he regressed in 2012. Less SBs (26), fewer HRs (8) and a slash line of .243/.306/.349. Part of this regression was likely predictable as Maybin had a BABIP of .331 due in part to being the beneficiary of a substantial amount of infield hits in 2011. But while the offensive figures were lower they were not that far off from the year prior. What was more surprising was the drop in SBs (and drop in attempts, which could be something Maybin had no control over) and in defense (Fld of 4.0).
So now we’ve hit the “going back in time to the 1970s” portion of the Cameron Maybin story (if you are still following along with the “LOST” metaphor).
Maybin’s return from the DL last night was initially met with a sizeable “meh” to “crap” reaction from most fans. That reaction turned a bit more vitriol when it appeared that the corresponding move to have Maybin back was sending Blanks to AAA. It may have something to do with Maybin’s .091 BA for 2013 before hitting the DL. Then again, I think we can all agree that anything that keeps Amarista out of CF is a good thing, even if that thing is hitting .091.
Of course, what does Maybin do in his first game back? He goes 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases. Oh, and a Willie Mays style, game saving, over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track in the Bottom of the 11th that preserved the tie and allowed San Diego to win an inning later. So basically, he did everything in one game that Cameron Maybin is capable of doing but so rarely puts together for any long stretch of time.
I stuck with “LOST” to the end because 1) I had invested so much time in it I wasn’t going to just throw that away (read: stubbornness); and 2) because despite it’s flaws it still gave me joy and in the end, I feel like I was rewarded (a feeling not shared by all admittedly). The same is true of Maybin. I still see the potential for the bat that was ranked higher than Ryan Braun. I see a guy that plays CF better than any player San Diego has had since Mike Cameron. I see the player that can wreck havoc on the basepaths and frankly, I’m always a sucker for speed guys. But most of all, rooting for Maybin is enjoyable. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. A guy I want to root for. A guy I want to do well.
I mean, look at this picture:
How can you not root for this guy?
So welcome back, Cam! I think the team is better for having you on it, the lineup is stronger with you in it. Even if that opinion leaves me alone on an island with mysterious three-toed statues.
The Cameron Maybin bandwagon arrives at Padres Public every Friday. You can chat with the conductor on Twitter @LeftCoastBias or in the comments. And if you thought they were dead the whole time on “LOST,” please contact me so I may enlighten you.