Detroit Tigers' INF Nick Maton could benefit from a trip to Toledo
The Detroit Tigers acquired INF Nick Maton and OF Matt Vierling from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for LHP Gregory Soto back in January. Neither team has really gotten anything out of that trade yet, but the Detroit Tigers have probably benefitted from not having Soto on the team this season.
That being said, they could use more out of Vierling and Maton. Both have shown flashes, but haven't put it all together yet. Maton in particular is really struggling right now.
As of this writing, Maton is slashing .157/.246/.324 with four home runs, all of which came in the first two weeks of the season. He has just a 56 wRC+ and is worth -0.4 fWAR.
He's still walking close to 11%, but he's also striking out close to 30% of the time. He just looks lost at the plate right now.
When Maton does make contact, he crushes the ball. He has a 10.8% barrel rate this season, which is in the 70th percentile according to Baseball Savant. The problem is he doesn't make contact consistently.
The main culprit to Maton's problems has to be his inability to hit non-fastballs. If he gets a fastball in the zone, he's going to crush it. He's worth 1.8 runs above average against fastballs according to Fangraphs.
However, if he gets anything with spin, he's not going to hit it. Sliders in particular haven't eaten him up this year, as he's worth -4.1 runs above average against them this season.
Yet for some reason. A.J. Hinch keeps batting Maton in the middle of the order. I get he was hot those first two weeks, but he's cooled off considerably. He's hitting just .115 with a .335 OPS this month.
The least Hinch could do is drop him in the order. but I'm going to go a step further. I think Maton could use some time in Triple-A.
He has an option left, so they might as well use it. He can't hit anything with spin, and that's huge problem. He has a .921 OPS against fastball this year and a .247 OPS against sliders. Big-league pitchers have started to just not throw him any fastballs.
Maton could use some low-pressure ABs to help get him back on track. Scott Harris wanted him in the Gregory Soto deal for a reason. The at-bats have been there. He works deep into counts. It just hasn't paid off for him.
Nick Maton needs to get right at the plate. Sending down to Triple-A Toledo for a spell could help.