Phillies Player Review: John Mayberry – Phillies Nation
2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: John Mayberry

John Mayberry received more playing time this year, playing in 149 games with Domonic Brown in the minors, the mid-season trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard‘s injury. His overall production was below average. He hit for power but didn’t reach base all that much and struck out 23% of the time.

His defense was solid at first base and in the corner outfield spots, but his athleticism didn’t translate into solid routes or range in center. All told, he tallied just 0.4 WAR this year, down from the very impressive 2.5 WAR he produced in 2011.

His 2012 campaign can be viewed one of two ways: it was an overall failure or it was an experiment that cemented the notion that he is only useful as a platoon player. The two are mutually exclusive, because buying into the latter means that this season was useful in determining his future role, which prevents it from being a total outright failure.

Maybe I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, but I choose to evaluate his production the second way. This was a largely disappointing season, but his lack of production against righties means the Phillies can use him strictly against the lefties he crushes moving forward. They don’t need to waste any more time giving him work against righties and can instead eke out more outfield production through the use of platoons. All along, we said that the one benefit to this waste of a Phillies season was that the team would get to try different players in various spots and really see what it had.

While that comment was primarily directed towards the bullpen, it was also true of Mayberry. Over the last two seasons, he embodied the common expression “He’s great as an extra man but if he’s a starter you’re not a very good team.” That expression comes in many shapes and forms, but it describes Mayberry and the Phillies. As a part-time platoon player that isn’t yet arbitration-eligible, he is a perfect fit for this Phillies roster. As an everyday starter, not so much, and the 2012 season helped prove that point.

Make no mistake: he still hits lefties well. This year, he hit .271/.317/.494 against southpaws, with a .345 wOBA and 116 wRC+. His slugging percentage ranked 7th among National League hitters with at least 180 PAs against lefties (the exact amount Mayberry had). For his career, Mayberry now has the following split:

vs. R: .232/.302/.379, .301 wOBA, 86 wRC+
vs. L:  .284/.328/.547, .371 wOBA, 133 wRC+

Over the last three seasons, Shane Victorino has been the only Phillies player to hit lefties better than Mayberry. A lefty-crusher is easier to find on the free agent market than someone who crushes righties — like Eric Chavez, who we discussed yesterday — but Mayberry’s athleticism, defensive ability and favorable contract status make him quite the useful player if utilized properly.

It wasn’t so much that the Phillies used him incorrectly this season. Rather, they were playing him to see if he was a legitimate starting option moving forward. His poor production against righties — who account for 70% of the pitches thrown in a season — suggested that he isn’t a full-time player, but that is perfectly fine.

Not everyone is suited for an everyday role, and the 2013 Phillies would be well-served to call on a number of platoons, much like the 1993 Phillies did. Platooning Mayberry with Nate Schierholtz would make for a damn solid corner outfielder.

Since 2010, Mayberry has a .290/.337/.544 line in 306 PAs against lefties and a 136 wRC+ that indicates he was 36% better than the league in this split. In that same span, Schierholtz has a .270/.334/.440 line with a 112 wRC+. If each plays to his capacity, these two would combine to give the Phillies one of the better defensive corner outfielders with a bat 15-20% better than the league average.

Grade: C: Mayberry had a down year if the only evaluative tool used to make that decision was his overall statistical line. However, there was much more to the story, and I am choosing to grade him from the standpoint that he continued to hit lefties well and will no longer confuse the Phillies into thinking he is an everyday player anymore.

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  1. Brooks

    October 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Eric, you’re being way to generous with the grade. Mayberry was definitely part of the major problems the Phils had this year. Given that C is an average mark, I am wondering if perhaps he has pictures that you’d rather nobody owns? Kidding aside, his performance overall was very sub-par at the plate. I’d say a D to D- would be more realistic.

    Sure, the Phis discovered that Junior is 1) not a regular and 2) should be used almost exclusively vs Lefties – but really, did it take nearly an entire season to reach that conclusion?

    • Eric Seidman

      October 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Brooks, certainly a valid point. If I was grading Mayberry on his season as a whole, without regard for his future use, it would have been a D. However, as I mentioned, I chose to evaluate his season based on what he is going to provide the Phillies moving forward, which is a solid defensive corner outfielder who occasionally plays CF, but only faces lefties. Under that context, I felt his season was average. His CF defense left much to be desired, even if he looks somewhat graceful out there at times, and while he hit lefties for plenty of power, his patience was lacking and he didn’t make as much contact.

      I certainly respect disagreement with this approach, but this is how I chose to grade him.

  2. EricL

    October 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I also tend to think you’re being generous with your rating of JMJ. It’s not as if he is some young prospect that required a lot of evaluation – he’s had nearly 3000 minor league at bats, and has never once, against inferior competition, posted a line resembling the one he put up at the end of 2011. I think we had a good idea of what he was well the 2012 season. Further, I think it was obvious after the first few months of the season that he just wasn’t an every day player (especially when you couple his performance with his history, and the fact that the only time he really looked like something valuable was the 250 or so AB he got at the end of 2011). Through June (50+ starts) his line was .226/.262/.379. It took the Phils two months of regular playing time in 2011 to come to the conclusion that Ben Fransisco couldn’t hit. Not sure why it Mayberry gets significantly more rope.

    From the limited splits data I’ve seen from the minors, he also posted a significant L/R split there. I’m going to assume the Phillies have this information, and so it should have been pretty obvious what the guy was, without trying to rely on him.

    All that said, this is a Howard Contract type situation. It’s not his fault he was in the lineup every day and I’m not sure how much you can really punish a guy for being exactly what he’s always been. I think the grade should be low, but more because he was thought to be something he wasn’t than because he underperformed. (But then when players get rated, I suppose a not-insignificant part of their rating is based on their shortfall between expectations and results: Qualls, Polanco, Wigginton, Martinez, etc)

    • Eric Seidman

      October 26, 2012 at 10:27 am

      I agree with much of that. I think grading is useless, to be honest. As an analytical fan, all that matters to me about Mayberry’s season is that he played about average in the areas that really matter for him moving forward. That he was forced to play a lot was out of his control, and I’m not going to penalize him for all the extra PAs against righties when, if everyone was healthy and the Phillies had the perfect storm of health and talent on the roster, his playing time would have been more carefully managed.

    • hk

      October 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm


      Your last paragraph is spot-on. Mayberry seems to have earned a C, but Charlie’s grade should suffer for using him sub-optimally and RAJ’s grade should suffer for going into the season expecting JMJ to perform vs. RHP’s.

  3. Bob D

    October 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I see Mayberry after this year as the 4th OF / platoon player. He did well in the 2nd half both of the last 2 years – its the first half he hasn’t done well. Im thinking Brown will fall in same catagory – good player, but necessairly a full time starter.

    When I look at the OF this team has now: Nix, Scheirholtz, & Wigginton the others – I dont see any full time starters, even with Brown as he has become suspect. The team needs 2 starters a CF with great defense and at least a bit of a bat (Victorino/Pagan), and a corner OF with power and preferable a high BA (Cabrera/Cruz). Ruf maybe able to crack lineup as its begining to look like he can flat out hit.

    Mayberry is a great player to have on bench for 1B/RF/LF. He fields well and is a decent hitter. But he could be trade foder along with any OF on this team right now, except Ruf as I expect the Phils want to look at him more.

  4. The Original Chuck P

    October 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

    The worst thing that could have happened to the 2012 Phillies is what JMJ did in the latter part of 2011… the fraudulent .275 BA/.500 SLG that he put up convinced the fan base that it would be ok to enter the 2012 season with him playing every day… he gave Amaro an out. So many people overlooked JMJ’s larger sample size prior to the 2012 season and tagged him as their hope – his minor league numbers have always suggested that he is nothing more than a platoon player (his career minor league batting average at .258). I think he’s capable of being a great pinch hitter… he has a flare for hitting under pressure and he can adequately play OF/1B but he’s not someone you rely on every day at either position. We would have been better off giving Dom the reins.

    Your grade is too high because, despite what you may claim that you knew (that he was a platoon player… nothing more), he was asked to help carry us in the RBI department while Howard was out and JMJ did not. His first half numbers were atrocious… I said from the get-go that I would have preferred Dom, and you probably did too, but deep down in your heart you probably held out hope that JMJ could really be more than you thought he was… that your intuition was wrong. You have to grade on that because no one screamed loud enough to make Amaro do anything different… he was our every day LF’er heading into the season and he has to be graded as such. He deserves no higher than a D and he would likely grade himself that way.

    • hk

      October 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      The worst thing that could have happened to the 2012 Phillies is what JMJ did in the latter part of 2011… the fraudulent .275 BA/.500 SLG that he put up convinced the fan base that it would be ok to enter the 2012 season with him playing every day… he gave Amaro an out.

      This comment is confusing. I don’t believe that JMJ’s end of 2011 convinced the fan-base that he’s an everyday player. I think it may have convinced the manager and/or the GM, but there are plenty of us out there on Eric’s old site, Bill Baer’s site and this site who recognized that his end of 2011 was too small of a sample size to convince us of anything. Also, even if I’m wrong and you are right, are you saying the GM’s approach to the situation was to go into 2012 counting on JMJ as an everyday player because the fan-base was convinced that he was one?

    • brooks

      October 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      I agree OCP – the Phils were fooled again with no solid backing. I’m reminded of Benny Fresh for example. How many people on this sight thought he would give the Phils a solid .275/18/85 production? I would say Benny Fresh was closer than JMJ will ever be.

      • George

        October 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

        I don’t think the front office was fooled by either player, or they wouldn’t have had other options(who also, unfortunately, didn’t work out). Whe Francisco was penciled in, the Phils also had Brown, Gload, and other bench options. This year, there was Nix and Pierre, and others were auditioned. Those sound more like platoon situations. Also, in 2012, the team had to think about replacing Howard, and Mayberry can play 1st.

        As far as Francisco being “closer,” I’d have to disagree. He’s been with sevearl teams since the Phils, and if I’m not mistaken, doesn’t have an ML job at present. Mayberry has always been the superior fielder, plays multiple positions, and hits left handed pitching well enough to hold down a platoon role. He may not be a regular, but he was playing well enough to be given a chance; when he couldn’t cut it, management made moves to rectify the situation.

  5. George

    October 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Mayberry was not the big problem in the Phils’ outfield. For one thing, he played a number of games at 1st base; left field was set up as a platoon pretty early on with Nix and Pierre taking roles while Mayberry subbed for Howard. But If Victorino and Pence had been playing decently, Mayberry’s numbers wouldn’t have been so noticeable.

    I’m giving him a pass. He was put in a difficult position alternating between infield and outfield and forced, due to injuries to others, to play against pitchers he was unlikely to hit. He probably did as well as anyone (anyone with his talent level) would have done in such circumstances. He’ll never be a great player, but he is a useful one.

    • Lefty

      October 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      “But If Victorino and Pence had been playing decently, Mayberry’s numbers wouldn’t have been so noticeable.”

      Agreed, I was thinking that too, well put. I think his versatility can be very useful.
      I also think maybe even a good “trade throw in” for a position of need, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me.

  6. bacardipr

    October 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I wouldve giving him a C-. When you look at JMJ from a physical standpoint he screams like he would be a excellent ball player. You look at Brown and he has this dopey sort of look on him. This isnt to say Brown will or wont be a good ball player. The Phils gave him a chance in hope he would be the next Shane or that sort of player. With 2 All-Stars already in the OF this would of have been the perfect chance for Rube to take a shot. Rube has to take these chances from time to time. While Mayberry is a great person but i just dont believe he has that natural i was born with it talent to rise up. If he didnt play multiple position adequately and have a little pop we probably wouldnt have much use for him.

  7. Bob in Bucks

    October 26, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    The grades are meaningless. The write up was good. Except I see him platooning with Brown not Schierholtz.

    Hey guys, what do you think about a two year contract with Torii Hunter? I know he is old BUT he hit over .300 last year. We could use a good RH OF. Not long term but the market is thin. Say $15MM over two years? That takes him to age 39.

    Last years stats were .313/.365/.459. His HRs were down to 16 but his avg was up. Even if he give us .280/.340/.425 it would be better than anything we have. Still a + fielder.

    • Lefty

      October 27, 2012 at 6:24 am

      I like Torii Hunter a lot Bob, but I think his numbers last season were buoyed a bit by hitting between Trout and Pujols all season. Still he legitimately could give us the numbers you propose or slightly lower. Can he still play CF? I think those days are over.

      But… speaking of Angels in the outfield-

      Peter Bourjos interests me much more, although we’d have to trade something for him. In 2011 he put up similar numbers .271/.327/.438 to what you suggest Hunter might do. He has decent R-L splits, can steal 25 bags, has excellent range in CF and is only 25. The Angels have little use for him with their crowded outfield. Some of his minor league numbers suggest he has a chance at least, to be an even better hitter. Bourjos anyone?

      • hk

        October 27, 2012 at 6:37 am

        Yes to Bourjos. No to Hunter unless he comes cheap. Hunter is no longer a CF and might be looking for big money following a .313/.365/.451 season, during which he benefited from a fluky high BABIP.

      • Bob in Bucks

        October 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

        Hard to discuss a trade without knowing the other side of the deal. Who exactly might the Phils have that would interest the Angels? Giving up a guy they control at that age means we have to give up someone of great interest. Bourjos is exactly why Hunter will be on the market. I think you have to recognize the Phils dont’ have much to trade.

    • Ken Bland

      October 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

      In the overall scheme, Hunter’d be an asset, but you have to wonder about the attraction to the Phils. The guy’s played his whole career in the AL, and has played his career in the midwest and Cali. In those regards, he’d have to be in a frame of mind for quite the change this late in his career. Plus. for whatever the quotes are worth, he’s stated that he wants to play for a winner if he leaves the Angels, and if that stands up once offers come in (winning walks when money takls), you’d have to hope he sees the Phils through the right perspective since this isn’t like 2-3 years ago when it was as apparent as taking it for granted allows that the Phils would be a contender. It’s not hallucanation to think of them as a would be contender, but hardly as visible.

    • Eric Seidman

      October 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I love when you guys comment on stuff I have outlined for articles the following week. Confirms my thought that a topic is interesting. Let’s just say I have a little ditty on Bourjos dialed up for next week (Hurricane permitting).

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