Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Replacing Cameron Maybin with Mikie Mahtook looks shrewd

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BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 04: Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers catches a fly ball hit by Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles (not pictured) in the eighth inning during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 4, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 04: Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers catches a fly ball hit by Jonathan Schoop #6 of the Baltimore Orioles (not pictured) in the eighth inning during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 4, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers fans have seen some excellent play from Mikie Mahtook as of late. The 27-year-old looks like the center fielder of the future in the Motor City.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila traded outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the offseason.

For a Tigers team that just missed the playoffs in 2016, replacing Maybin’s production was going to be tough.

The former first-round pick notched a 2.0 WAR, a 120 wRC+ and a .383 on-base percentage in 391 plate appearances for the Tigers.

Detroit went 55-39 in games that Maybin played in during the 2016 campaign. The team was clearly better with him on the field.

However, per Spotrac, the outfielder was slated to make $9 million in 2017.

Avila flipped the 30-year-old to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—them of the many names— for power pitching prospect Victor Alcantara.

The general manager later sent another power pitching prospect, Drew Smith, to the Tampa Bay Rays for Mahtook. Avila effectively swapped Maybin and Smith for Mahtook and Alcantara.

Both Smith and Alcantara are power relievers in Double-A, effectively cancelling each other out.

However, the comparison between Maybin and Mahtook tilts considerably in Mahtook’s favor, making Avila look all the more shrewd for making the deals.

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Offensive impact

Playing on a team that previously employed J.D. Martinez and features a scorching-hot Justin Upton, Mahtook has been just as valuable from an offensive standpoint since the calendar turned to June.

In 157 plate appearances, the former Ray is batting .319 with a .376 on-base percentage.

Mahtook has also contributed a .496 slugging percentage, a .370 wOBA, a 132 wRC+ and a .177 ISO.

He’s also chipped in with 17 RBI, seven doubles, four home runs, three triples and two stolen bases.

On the season, here is how Mahtook compares to Maybin:

Mikie Mahtook 2017 offensive stats: 1.2 WAR, 220 plate appearances, 108 wRC+, .280 batting average, .336 on-base percentage, .450 slugging percentage, .786 OPS, .336 wOBA, .170 ISO, 0.7 BsR.

Cameron Maybin 2017 offensive stats: 1.2 WAR, 322 plate appearances, 99 wRC+, .238 batting average, .342 on-base percentage, .368 slugging percentage, .710 OPS, .314 wOBA, .130 ISO, 1.1 BsR.

Salary and controllability

What’s more, Mahtook is much more of a fit for the Tigers long-term considering the team’s desire to get more athletic and younger.

Maybin is plenty athletic, but is three years Mahtook’s senior. Additionally, Maybin is on an expiring contract while Detroit’s current center fielder is controllable for the long haul.

According to the folks at Spotrac, Mahtook is making $541,300 this season.

He’s under team control for another year in 2018 before becoming eligible for arbitration.

The earliest he can become a free agent is after the 2021 season. By that point, Maybin will be 34.

Long-term

Mahtook’s controllability is also a significant plus for a Detroit Tigers orginization that doesn’t have many other center field options in the system.

JaCoby Jones could still factor into the outfield discussion, but he’ll need to hit more and strikeout less to contribute on a regular basis in the Majors.

Elsewhere, Mike Gerber could shift to the outfield corners, while Derek Hill and Jose Azocar are a few years away from making it to the Majors.

Next: These 10 Toledo Mud Hens players could make an impact now

Either way, Mikie Mahtook gives the Detroit Tigers another core piece to build around in the near future.

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