Through his first 111 plate appearances as a Phillie, right fielder Delmon Young has hit about as well as well as we realistically could have expected. He had posted a .304 and .305 weighted on-base average in 2011 and ’12, respectively, and currently sits at .302. The National League average for right fielders is .331. To put it simply, Young has been between two and three runs below average offensively. Despite flashing a strong arm that has surprised those of us (including yours truly) who thought he was in the same company as Juan Pierre and Ben Revere in terms of arm strength, Young has been a trainwreck defensively and he has not added any value on the base paths, making him a net negative to the Phillies.
With the emergence and subsequent takeover of the league by left fielder Domonic Brown (.378 wOBA), playing time has been few and far between for John Mayberry. Ignoring interleague games in which Young was used as a designated hitter, opening up right field, Mayberry has started nine times since the start of May. Six of those were starts in center field for the offensively-impotent Ben Revere, including four games in a row May 14-18 when Charlie Manuel was most frustrated with Revere.
As Mayberry showed last night, with his game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning and walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th, he is able to provide some value on the field. He had a .714 OPS entering the game, which was higher than Young’s at just about any point during the season. Unlike Young, Mayberry is quite capable defensively and has run the bases about as poorly in his scant few opportunities.
Before the season, when Young was still a free agent, I was calling for the Phillies to platoon Mayberry with Laynce Nix. Mayberry has posted a .375 wOBA against left-handed pitching over his career while Nix is .315 against right-handed pitching. Combined, the duo would constitute an average-ish right field. The Young signing squelched any hope of a platoon and relegated Mayberry to the #2 right-handed bat off the bench behind Kevin Frandsen. But now that the Young project clearly hasn’t worked out and Mayberry has outproduced him, it’s time to revisit the idea of utilizing a platoon in right field.
Young’s skill set actually plays better off of the bench, anyway. Using him for one at-bat in the late innings against a lefty means his defense isn’t costing the team runs in the early and middle innings. It means he doesn’t have to painfully lug his sluggish body around the bases three or four times a game. It means he isn’t being dominated by right-handed pitching. It means his hack-first, ask-questions-later approach isn’t helping keep opposing starters in the game by suppressing their pitch counts. And, most importantly, it means the Phillies would have the platoon advantage in a significantly higher proportion of plate appearances from their right fielders.
Mayberry’s performance last night is hopefully the wake-up call the Phillies need to realize that Young is more of an impediment than an asset to the team in his current role.