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.