2014 Phillies Report Card: John Mayberry, Jr.
When Bill gave out the report card assignments, I was probably least excited about writing up John Mayberry, Jr. I don’t have anything against the guy, but he reminds me just a little too much of all those bad Phillies teams from the late 80s and early 90s. Specifically, he reminds me of Wes Chamberlain, who I actually loved as a kid. Well what do you know, Wes Chamberlain is #7 on John Mayberry’s similarity score list (Dom Brown is #8!) on baseball-reference dot com. I’m not thrilled about the Phillies being just as bad now as they were when I was in elementary school, which isn’t JMJ’s fault at all, but here we are.
So I was really happy with myself Thursday morning when I had an epiphany: have some fun with it, don’t just write a regular analysis, do something quirky … Rickroll ’em.
I spent a LOT of time writing this report card in an acrostic format, with the last paragraph in the article using the “down” in “never gonna let you down” only to discover (thanks to Bill) that browser resolution issues would render the joke useless to many readers. After accepting that, I realized that Rickrolling isn’t actually that funny anymore, anyway. And with that, I give you my evaluation of Yayberry.
We’ve known each other for so long, John Mayberry (that’s it, I promise no more). Since cementing his roster spot in 2011, Mayberry proved playable as a right-handed platoon bat, capable of handling four positions as a backup/300-400 at bats guy. However, his defense isn’t very good and his worst position, centerfield, is where the Phillies played Mayberry most often.
|2011 UZR||Inn.||2012 UZR||Inn.||2013 UZR||Inn.||2014 UZR||Inn.||Career UZR||Inn.|
Defensive metrics are still far from where we’d like them to be, but four seasons’ worth of UZR data is definitely worthwhile for discussion purposes. Mayberry was clearly miscast by the Phillies as a centerfielder, and played his best defense, overall, in right field. Good centerfielders are hard to find, especially those with even a modicum of power, but one whose defense is substandard seems a less than ideal backup. Blame Ruben Amaro, Jr. for poor roster construction, not John Mayberry, Jr. for simply being the round peg in a square hole after the 2012 trade of Shane Victorino to the Dodgers.
When Mayberry began his Phillies tenure years ago, he flashed exciting power potential. But with continued playing time, he was exposed, and his numbers deteriorated as the league figured out his weaknesses. His strikeout rate, always north of 20% in the minor leagues, was 18.6% in 2011 (his best overall season by far), then rose about five percent in 2012 to 23.2% and stayed there in 2013. Not coincidentally, Mayberry’s wOBA fell from great in 2011 to poor in 2012 and 2013. He did improve in 2014, registering an average wOBA (league average for non-pitchers was .315). Of course, it’s only fair to point out his career platoon splits: he’s got a .365 wOBA against lefties, and a .293 against righties.
Give Amaro credit for managing to send Mayberry up north to Toronto in August for minor-league infielder Gustavo Pierre. Mayberry, entering his age 31 season in 2015, was not going to be a very good fit on an aging Phillies team, and this winter he will be eligible for arbitration (cue laugh track at his replacement, Grady Sizemore, being one year older). Pierre repeated A-ball twice, in 2012 and 2013. That indicates he’s an organizational depth player with a small chance to have anything beyond a negligible impact on the team’s future. For now, he’ll be cheap and has a nonzero chance of figuring out how to unlock his power potential as a member of the next competitive Phillies team. He was a very good get for a player who was a non-tender candidate before the 2014 season.
“Young” fan favorite Darin Ruf will easily replace Mayberry’s right-handed outfielder/first baseman/power bench bat on the 2015 Phillies. However, unless Ruf develops significantly on defense, he’ll be a downgrade there. Grady Sizemore, who had a decent couple of months for the Phillies, will back up all three outfield positions and has some upside, though the power/speed demon who set the league on fire is never coming back. Cesar Hernandez will also spend some time in center. So the Phillies have plenty of backup types, righty bench power, a backup/platoon first baseman, and oh yeah, Cody Asche.
Divining a letter grade for the one-time mermaid chaser wasn’t easy (I’m sorry, I had to do that). John Mayberry had a forgettable half-season in 2014, and was flipped for a lottery ticket. Next year, his talents will be easily replaced by younger, cheaper players AND an older, similarly priced player. He never came close to replicating his breakthrough 2011 season, but did fill several roles for the Phillies as they drifted further from contention. Goodbye, Maybs.