See? THAT'S a veteran showing those Spring Training invitees how to smile. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Player (P)Review: John Mayberry Jr.

John Mayberry Jr.

Key 2013 Stats:

Against RHP: .221/.283/.364 (.646 OPS); 6 HR; 19 BB/ 73 SO

Against LHP: .240/.296/.460 (.756 OPS); 5 HR; 8 BB/ 17 SO

Proportion of PAs Against LHP: 28.125%

What happened in 2013:

Outside of Cliff Lee‘s All-Star game death glare, and maybe the Erik Kratz/Freddy Galvis back-to-back HRs off of Aroldis Chapman, John Mayberry provided what might be the greatest moment of the season for Phillies fans (greatly appreciated in a down year, so thank you sir).

It was just, you know, the usual two extra-innings home runs, including a WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM. It was great stuff.

Unfortunately, the rest of his season (like the Phillies as a whole) was not quite that spectacular.

Mayberry has value. He’s a great right-handed bench bat who has the bonus of being able to play CF (although his defense is below average). The problem with Mayberry in the last two seasons has been his forced lack of adherence to that role.

He is not a .854 OPS player like the season he had in 2011. That being said, he shouldn’t be the combined .687 OPS player he’s been from 2012-2013, either.

A partial key to his 2011 success was that he played 40.5% of the time against LHP – his obvious strength.

With the increased reliance on him as an every day CF in the second half of both seasons since (after the trade of Shane Victorino, and then the injury to Ben Revere), he’s been forced to have more at-bats against RHP, whom he has severe platoon splits against over his career (.668 OPS  vs. RHP / .847 OPS vs. LHP).

If you’re inclined to disagree with this whole idea of platoon splits, look at Cody Ransom‘s 2013 with the Cubs. He’s a career .213 batter with a .703 OPS, and a bench OF.

Also right-handed, the Cubs used him the way Mayberry SHOULD’VE been ideally used this year. He had a whopping 58% of PAs against LHP. His platoon splits? .552 OPS vs. RHP / .814 OPS vs. LHP, resulting in a total .753 OPS with the Cubs in 182 PAs last season.

It’s not everyday level stuff, but it’s maximizing value of a completely respectable bench player.

So, when viewing his 2013 season through this lens, Mayberry’s overall numbers get put into context.

However, each half of his platoon splits are still below career averages, particularly his .756 OPS against LHP. So, in this sense (especially when combined with his defensive deficiencies), he still did have a bad year.

What to expect in 2014:

Recently tendered a contract by the Phillies, Mayberry’s projected to earn $1.5 million in arbitration. He is, though, in a bit of a roster predicament.

As a backup CF and right-handed bench bat, if given 200-250 ABs against mostly LHP, he could easily easily have a league average OPS (~.730), although still debilitated with below average defense.

The problem is, outside of Freddy Galvis (a switch hitter), there aren’t currently any left-handed bats on the bench, and typically one of two OF bats is.

Cesar Hernandez is also a switch hitter, but his strength also comes from his right side.

The value in Mayberry’s power (and 1B versatility) is also duplicated by Darin Ruf, so the question becomes, who remains on the roster by opening day?

There isn’t room for all three, and presuming the addition of a left-handed bat, then really there’s only room for one. Given that I have more faith in Darin Ruf than most (I think over a full season, he’d reach 30 HR, .340 OBP),  I’m inclined to say that he has the most upside of the three.

Honestly, I don’t see Mayberry being in Philadelphia opening day (unless he’s traded back to the Rangers), and in all likelihood, a trade involving some pitching, and Mayberry and/or Hernandez for a starting center fielder (moving left-handed Revere to the bench) would be the best case scenario.

I’m not going to get into specific trade scenarios here, but regardless of the team he plays for, Mayberry at 250 ABs throughout a whole season is a productive player, and I’d expect that to be applicable in 2014.

Were he to receive 350+ ABs? Then you’re going to see a lot of the same production that existed in the last two seasons.

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