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Mayberry Should Hope for Endless Summer

Call me, Mayberry? (MLB)

Heading into 2012, a lot of hope was placed on John Mayberry Jr. to fill the hole in left field. After being recalled on July 5, 2011, Junior was a very productive player, hitting .301/.358/.607 with 12 HRs in 179 PA primarily against left-handed pitching. Mayberry was the perfect compliment to an aging Raul Ibanez in left down the stretch and helped the Phillies cruise to their fifth straight division title.

In Spring Training 2012, however, Mayberry struggled. Hitting a paltry .203/.259/.304 line, Mayberry seemingly relinquished an opportunity to play everyday to Juan Pierre. Mayberry received 258 PA through July 31, hitting just .235/.275/.391 with 8 HRs. Mayberry was receiving playing time more like a super-sub than a starter, playing 16 games at two or more positions, and coming off of the bench in 35 of his 93 appearances in 101 Phillies’ games. After trades sent Shane Victorino to LA and Hunter Pence to San Francisco, Mayberry, almost by default, became the everyday center fielder. He has very quietly delivered and is a big reason the Phillies have been much improved in the second half.

Mayberry’s second half is shaping up much like his promising run from last season. Since August 1, Mayberry has hit .301/.355/.513 with 6 HRs. First half v. second half, Mayberry improved his OPS by over 200 points, drawing only two fewer walks in 56 less plate appearances, in striking out 34 fewer times. Mayberry’s BABIP has only increased by .006 comparing the first and second half, despite a 57 point increase in batting average in the same time span.

Despite his successes, there are reasons Mayberry likely does not figure into the Phils’ everday plans. First, Mayberry’s 2011 struggles against righties have continued in 2012. In 2012, Mayberry has hit just .230/.295/.355, striking out 61 times compared to a .250/.330/.455 line last year. Second, Mayberry continues to crush pitching at home but struggles on the road. In 2011, Mayberry hit .305/.368/.550 at home v. .243/.316/.478 versus .270/.317/.439 at home in 2012 v. .240/.282/.419 on the road.

Yet, as the disappointing season winds down, there is reason for Mayberry to enjoy his second half successes. Mayberry has not only picked up the offensive production but also has provided above-average defense at first, left, and right this year. The BABIP numbers (.301 in 2012 v. .293 in 2011) suggest that Mayberry has actually been ever-so-slightly “luckier” this year than last; knowing this, it may be safe to assume that the real Mayberry may be directly between his final numbers from 2011 and 2012, with an rather strong platoon split skewed toward success against lefties. Either way, as Mayberry’s 2012 successes continue, he may be hoping for an endless summer.

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