Thinking About Mitch Maier In The Second Half

I'm a Mitch Maier fan. Predictable, in many ways, I know. I campaigned for him to be a 2010 stopgap in CF, and after Rick Ankiel went down with an injury (injuries?) that ended up happening. At least for awhile.

MITCH had his moments at the plate in the first half, but thanks to a bad start and a bad finish, his overall triple slash line is pretty bad: .251/.328/.367. Maier's offensive numbers were dragged down by a positively Bloomquistian stretch run. Over his final 89 PAs, Mitch hit just .220/.281/.354.

Nevertheless, M.M. gave the Royals good defense in CF, racking up a 2.7 UZR. Thanks to his defense, Mitch posted a positive 0.7 WAR in the first half. Again, not great, but mostly acceptable from a guy making the minimum that you produced from your own system. Maier's 0.7 WAR is actually 6th best amongst position players on the team. The Royals employed a Pods-Maier-DeJesus outfield 40 times in the first half, and that is likely the best defensive configuration they've had in the outfield this decade.

 

Still, I am a little worried about Maier in the second half. It's not sound reasoning to read much into his recent slump, but it's there nonetheless. He's still taking pitches and getting a fair amount of walks, but he's also striking out a fair amount because of that patience. His BABIP is at .292, so he hasn't been hugely unlucky in that regard. All told, you'd probably like to see a 28 year old hitting a little better. In particular, Maier seems weirdly unable to hit doubles. He has just seven two-baggers on the year, which is the same number of triples+homers he has (four and three, respectively). ZIPS doesn't project a huge change the rest of the way, although it does see a mild power uptick, predicting a .265/.326/.378 line.

Of course, looming in the background here is Ankiel. Who knows when he's coming back. On June 19th, the word was his latest setback was... wait for it... not serious. Given all the uncertainty in the outfield, as well as Yost's blooming affection for a certain utility player, Maier could get 20 starts in the second half, or he could get 80. I hope he does well.

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