Detroit Tigers: Cameron Maybin Brings A Spark To The Ballpark
The Detroit Tigers have struggled against everybody not named the Minnesota Twins this season, but maybe Cameron Maybin‘s return to Detroit is just what this team needs.
Cameron Maybin was the future of the Detroit Tigers organization – until he wasn’t.
Maybin was traded for Miguel Cabrera before the 2008 season after appearing in just 24 games for the Tigers during 2007. He was one of the hottest prospects in baseball, but he wasn’t Cabrera. Since being dealt, Maybin spent three seasons in Miami, four seasons in San Diego and one in Atlanta. He was the type of player that would occasionally pop up on a highlight reel; but ultimately, he was just another face in Major League Baseball.
But maybe right here, right now, he’s the shot-of-life this team needs.
Through his first three games with the club since being sidelined with a wrist injury during spring training, Maybin sure seems to enjoy playing for the team that traded him away when he was a hot-shot, 20-year-old prospect.
Now, it’s possible some of that has to do with the fact that the Tigers were playing the Twins, a team they’re 6-0 against this season. And while those games against one of the worst teams in baseball was a nice way to start your season, another thought also comes to mind–maybe this is the start of something more.
Let’s be honest, Anthony Gose is never going to be the answer in center field and the Tigers really don’t have another viable option. This job is Maybin’s for the taking. He went 5-for-9, scored three runs, drew two walks, had an RBI and stole three bases against the Twins. Perhaps most importantly, he did it all with big smile on his face, something that hasn’t exactly been common in the Tigers dugout lately.
While we can’t expect Maybin to carry a .300 average (he’s a lifetime .252 hitter), we can expect him to play above-average defense and steal a bunch of bases. Home runs are great, but the next best thing for an offense is stretching a walk or a single into a double. Stealing a base puts a man in scoring position and it gets everybody all riled up.
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Back in 2006, the Tigers had starter Nate Robertson providing the right kind of distraction and lighthearted fun that the team needed in the form “gum time.” Whenever a game was close late, Robertson would shove a bunch of gum into his mouth to either start the rally or get that key out.
Baseball is supposed to be full of silly antics like that. Cabrera has lots of fun playing the game, but he’s never going to be a high energy guy in the clubhouse. In Maybin, I see small flashes early on of the kind of guy this team needs. He looks like a guy who’s having fun playing for the team he wants to play for. He looks like a guy who left home nine years ago and was just biding his time until he could return. Maybe that’s put a little bounce into his step. Maybe it’s just a happy coincidence because the Tigers were playing a team they routinely dominate. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s something more.
In a season that’s been anything but fun thus far, maybe a contagious smile on a kid just happy to be here is exactly what this stagnant cast of characters needs to save their season.