John Mayberry, Jr. Quietly Having a Great Season

Outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. got the start at first base in place of Ryan Howard against San Diego Padres lefty Eric Stults in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. Mayberry, as he has done so often throughout his career, punished the southpaw along with his lefty mates in the bullpen. JMJ finished the day with a pair of doubles off of Stults and a three-run home run against reliever Alex Torres — all three hits coming off of lefties as the Phillies completed a series sweep in what has been their first winning streak since May 17-20.

On the season, Mayberry now has five home runs, 16 RBI, and a .273/.360/.591 slash line in 75 plate appearances. If we lower the playing time threshold low enough to include Mayberry, he has easily been the Phillies’ best hitter: his .410 weighted on-base average outpaces Chase Utley‘s .371 and Carlos Ruiz‘s .354.

On this blog, we have called for a platoon involving Mayberry in some fashion, be it in the outfield or at first base with Howard. But entering this season, the percentage of his plate appearances with the platoon advantage was on a steady decline, from 41 percent in 2011 to 38 percent and 28 percent in the following two seasons. This year, it’s at 57 percent. He has a .324/.419/.703 slash line against lefties compared to .207/.281/.448 against right-handers. Coincidence? I think not. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, manager Ryne Sandberg has done a much better job of putting Mayberry into situations that put his strengths front and center.

Quietly, Mayberry has become a potentially valuable trade chip for the Phillies. He is earning $1.5875 million on the season and is arbitration-eligible for two more years. That’s relatively cheap for a guy who can play multiple positions and crush lefties. He’s the exact kind of player a contending team would want to bring on board for the stretch run in the final two months of the season.

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13 comments

  1. Evan

    June 13, 2014 09:04 AM

    Tradeberry.

  2. Alex Riley - Hitter's Count

    June 13, 2014 11:00 AM

    Do you think he could put up better numbers than Dom Brown playing every day? I could do with less Dom Brown in my life.

    • Bill Baer

      June 13, 2014 11:10 AM

      About 75% of the Phillies’ plate appearances have been against right-handed pitching, which is a bad percentage if you’re considering using Mayberry on an everyday basis. And I don’t think Dom Brown is anywhere near as bad as he has looked this season.

      • Alex Riley - Hitter's Count

        June 13, 2014 11:48 AM

        Just sad we live in a world where I’m suggesting that John Mayberry play every day.

      • nik

        June 13, 2014 11:53 AM

        Dom Brown has been pretty much this same player for most of his career other than a hot 6 week stretch last year. I think its time to come to grips that this is his true talent level. If he hasn’t learned to play a decent outfield over the past 8-9 years, what makes us think he can learn to adjust at the plate (a much harder thing to do)?

      • hk

        June 13, 2014 01:26 PM

        @ nik,

        If you page down the site, you’ll see an article about Brandon Moss, a player who was highly touted as a youngster – albeit not as highly touted as Dom Brown – and who did not start producing until his age 28 season. Yes, Dom had an otherworldly month of May last year, but even if you exclude that month, his career wRC+ is greater than Moss’s wRC+ prior to his age 28 season. Why would you think a 54 wRC+ in 240 PA’s (with a .242 BABIP) is Dom’s true talent when he came into the season with a wRC+ > 100? Players start to get it at different times and ages.

  3. SteveH

    June 13, 2014 12:59 PM

    Bill

    This is something we all thought would be the case if he was platooned correctly. Who do you give the credit to in the organization for this, Sandberg or someone else? One quick question about yesterdays game, what is Bud Black thinking letting a lefty face him when he hits that home run?

    • Bill Baer

      June 13, 2014 01:08 PM

      I don’t have access to the team so I have no idea who decided to use Mayberry in more of a platoon role. It could be Sandberg himself, or maybe the analytics department had something to do with it. No idea.

      Thought the same thing about Bud Black and the lefty reliever.

  4. Mike Lacy

    June 13, 2014 01:10 PM

    I just hope this doesn’t prompt them to use JMJ more. I think one of the reasons for his success is his more limited use.

    It’s not like we haven’t seen what the man can do with a full-time role.

  5. edwin

    June 13, 2014 03:08 PM

    One thing that has confounded me is that in the past when Mayberry was given the chance to be an everyday player he has flailed and failed. Yet, coming off the bench and spot playing this year he has been nothing short of a nice surprise in an otherwise dreary season. Is it that some guys just can’t make the leap to being an everyday position player? How much of this is in his head since he has the tools to be quite good?

    • Brian

      June 14, 2014 02:01 PM

      None of it is in his head. Playing everyday means facing a lot more righties. He can’t hit righties. It’s really that simple.

  6. Brian

    June 14, 2014 02:04 PM

    Still think NixBerry would have worked out really well. Not only that, but it actually seemed to be the Phillie’s plan to use the setup that year too. Unfortunately, Nix got hurt early, the whole thing collapsed, and the Phillies have seemed reluctant to make use of a platoon since.

    • hk

      June 14, 2014 09:41 PM

      Schierholtz / Mayberry would have been fine.

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