Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cameron Maybin, Jason Heyward, and...Kyle Blanks?

A Twitter follower asked me if he'd be better off with Jason Heyward or one of Cameron Maybin or Kyle Blanks the rest of the way.

I was going to dismiss Blanks as not belonging in this conversation, but then I looked at his numbers. In an obviously limited sample size of 63 plate appearances, he's out producing both Maybin and Heyward by a fair amount. Blanks was ice cold upon his call up but since then has been on fire. After a 3-for-32 start that included a grand total of zero extra base hits, he's 11-for-23 with two HR, seven RBI and only four strikeouts (not including today’s game).

Blanks' injury history and the small sample size make it difficult to say that he belongs in the conversation with Heyward and Maybin from a Roto standpoint. This could be something worth revisiting in the off-season, but I wouldn't overinflate the importance of 23 at bats. The entirety of the streak has also come on the road, so I'd like to see Blanks put up some crooked numbers at Petco before I get too excited.

That leaves us with Heyward and Maybin.

Heyward is suffering through what has become a lost season. Some analysts are pointing at a big uppercut in his swing and some mechanical flaws, but the simple fact of the matter is that Heyward hasn't been in good health this year. A shoulder injury put Heyward on the DL in late May and then a foot contusion pushed Heyward out of the line-up for a few days in July. 

I watched a Braves game recently and Heyward just looked like someone playing hurt. He scored a run, and as he was crossing home plate, I saw him grimace. Even the mere effort of running seems to be too much for him now.

I've heard a few touts talk about what a breakout season this has been for Maybin. It looks to me like he's having a solid season across the board but not a particularly great one. His 740 OPS is 45th among National League qualifiers (he’s 41st in wOBA). Taken in the context of National League outfielders that's not exciting. Petco is killing Maybin's numbers, but fantasy owners don't get a pass on venue.

Maybin's stolen bases are what make him more valuable than Heyward, and impossible to pass up at this point if you're playing for 2011. Maybin's steals make him a Top 30 earner in N.L.-only formats. Unless you're completely blowing off steals, you have to take Maybin over Heyward at this point. Even in the unlikely event that Heyward shakes off the injury rust, Maybin could still earn more the rest of the way because of the steals.

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