Last week, we examined the possible best case and worst case scenarios for the four starters of the Phillies infield. What we discovered is that the best case scenario would all but guarantee the Phillies 100 wins, while the worst case scenario would force the viewing public to hide their eyes and get REAL excited for Eagles training camp.
Most likely, all of these scenarios will probably play out somewhere in the middle; not too great, but not too bad either. Still, between injuries, age and past performance, there are so many different ways the 2012 season can play out.
With that, let’s take a look at the best case/worst case scenarios for the Phillies outfield.
John Mayberry Jr.
Best Case Scenario: This is probably the most interesting person in the entire outfield this season, with a divergence between best case and worst case wider than anyone else on the team. Mayberry’s best case scenario would be a replication of the second half of his 2011 season. I wrote about Mayberry specifically a couple months ago, and in that article, I noted that from July 4th through the end of the year, Mayberry posted a slash line of .301/.358/.607 for an OPS of .965, while hitting 12 HRs and knocking in 35. Those are numbers that, if stretched out over a whole season, would net him 33 HRs and 102 RBIs. If the Phillies can get that kind of production out of John Mayberry Jr. this season, this offense could get awfully dangerous in a hurry.
Worst Case Scenario: Of course, the worst case scenario was the exact point of my earlier column on John. What if he stinks? What if Mayberry’s adjustment at the plate, allowing him to hit right-handers better, was just a fluke? What if he reverts back to being nothing more than a platoon outfielder with a low on-base percentage and a ton of strikeouts? The worst case for Mayberry would be if he plays like Ben Francisco did last year, hitting .245/.330/.700 with 5-10 HRs and 30-35 RBIs.
Best Case Scenario: The reason I’m putting Dom Brown in this group right now is for the reasons mentioned above concerning Mayberry. If Mayberry ends up pulling a Francisco on the Phils, AND Brown has a phenomenal spring training AND he rakes in AAA AND he shows that he can make the routine plays in left field AND the Phillies realize Laynce Nix isn’t the answer for anything on a full-time basis, Brown could emerge as the every day left fielder in 2012. For Brown’s sake, the best case scenario for him would be for someone to get injured so he could move in right on opening day. But since that can’t really be counted on, the best case for Brown would be for him to have a spectacular first two months of AAA, much like 2010, when he hit .346/.390/.561 with 5 HRs and 21 RBIs in just 118 plate appearances. Anything after that would be determined by whether he’s an every day player or just a platoon guy. But the star potential is still there.
Worst Case Scenario: Brown continues to struggle, both in spring training and in the minors. He continues to butcher the routine plays in left and struggles with the bat, resulting in him remaining in LeHigh Valley for the entire summer. More than likely, the Phils would try to unload him in a July trade, although with a depressed value, it’s unlikely the Phils would get anything of value for him. The worry is, the Phillies have screwed him up so bad, a change of scenery may very well be the best case scenario for him at this point, regardless of what happens in the first two months of 2012. Worst case would be for the Phils to unload Brown, then see him rocket to super-stardom elsewhere. And right now, that looks like the most likely scenario of all.
Best Case Scenario: For Shane, this will be easy. The best case scenario for him will be a repeat of his 2011 season, hopefully without his slump at the end of the season that squashed any MVP talk. Still, Victorino had a career year, and another season of .279/.355/.491 with 17 HRs, 16 triples, and continued stellar defense would be all the Phils could ask for.
Worst Case Scenario: Shane’s 2010 season wasn’t horrible, but it was the worst of his career, and a repeat of that would be a problem. Much of Shane’s season depends on the health and production of Rollins out of the lead off spot, and on Victorino’s ability to avoid the little nagging injuries that have landed him on the DL from time to time. The other issue is Shane’s pending free agency. It’s highly unlikely the Phillies will be in any kind of position where they might consider trading him. However, if the Phils’ season goes down the toilet and they’re out of it by late July, the worst case scenario would see Victorino leaving for somewhere else. Of course, this is highly unlikely, so let’s not even talk about it, mmkay?
Best Case Scenario: Like Victorino, a repeat of his 2011 season at the plate would be ideal. Pence hit .314 with a career-high OBP of .370 and an OPS of .871. He was the Phillies’ best hitter last year, finishing the season in the #3 hole. That is the ideal spot for him in this lineup, breaking up the two lefties, Utley and Howard. The only tarnish to his season was his ill-timed post-season slump. But if Pence can duplicate what he did last year for a full season in Philadelphia, I don’t think anyone could ask him for anything more.
Worst Case Scenario: Pence has always been a productive player, so it’s unlikely he’s going to go into the tank. An injury would obviously hurt the Phils a lot, as would a drastic decrease in his batting average, on-base percentage and/or OPS. A season of .260/.310/.440 with 15-18 HRs would definitely be considered the worst of his career, crippling the middle of the batting order. Of all the Phillies on this list, he seems the least likely to encounter his worst case scenario.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the multitude of bench players the Phils signed in the off-season, to be followed by the starting rotation and their battery-mate, Chooch, the bullpen and finally, the bench.