Northeast Times

Mayberry making his case as Phils slugger

A righthan­ded power bat to help bal­ance a lefty-heavy bat­ting or­der. 

A guy who would force op­pos­ing pitch­ers to ac­tu­ally pitch to Ry­an Howard in­stead of pitch­ing around him.

That’s what Charlie Manuel wanted for his Phil­lies team as the trade dead­line ap­proached last month.

The Phils brass ul­ti­mately felt they got just that in their ac­quis­i­tion of Hunter Pence from the Hou­s­ton As­tros. 

Pence has played and pro­duced bril­liantly for the Phil­lies in his short ten­ure here, so that trade already is jus­ti­fy­ing it­self. 

But did the Phil­lies already have a guy who could fill that role?

Enter John May­berry Jr. 

The 27-year-old out­field­er has bounced around the last few years but looked good com­ing out of spring train­ing. The Phil­lies, though, were com­mit­ted to start­ing Do­mon­ic Brown in the out­field with Shane Vic­torino and Raul Ibanez.

Still, May­berry pro­duced. 

As most of you know, Brown struggled migh­tily in his first real stint in the ma­jors, for­cing the Phil­lies to go out and get Pence.

All the while, May­berry kept hit­ting when he got his chances.

Now, it is def­in­itely a stretch to com­pare him to Pence, simply be­cause Pence has a longer track re­cord in the big leagues.

Pence is a cur­rent all-star who has shown he can hit and play on this level, so ac­quir­ing him was not a hard de­cision to make. 

But May­berry’s out­put this year — in a much smal­ler num­ber of at-bats — is def­in­itely something to make people take no­tice. 

In just 74 games with the Phil­lies this year, May­berry has amassed 10 homers, a triple and 13 doubles in just 186 at-bats through Sunday. 

To put that in per­spect­ive, the newly ac­quired Pence has 15 homers, three triples and 30 doubles in more than two and a half times as many at bats.

And this is not a knock on Pence by any means; it is simply a test­a­ment to the sea­son May­berry is put­ting to­geth­er. 

Pence was not brought here to be the en­tire of­fense, either. He was brought in es­sen­tially be­cause he hits from the oth­er side of the plate than lefties Howard and Chase Ut­ley. 

How about this com­par­is­on, though:

In 436 at bats this sea­son — more than twice as many as May­berry — Ibanez has 16 homers, a triple and 25 doubles. 

That’s just six more homers and 12 more doubles than May­berry in 250 more at-bats.

That’s a com­par­is­on worth mak­ing, and one that May­berry re­in­forces every time he gets a chance to play.

Ibanez’s pre­vi­ous con­tri­bu­tions to this team are hard to ar­gue. But if you take a closer look at his cur­rent sea­son, a few things be­come evid­ent.

First is Ibanez’s streaky bat­ting av­er­age from month to month. 

He had a .161 av­er­age in April fol­lowed by .315 in May, .211 in June, .284 in Ju­ly and, thus far in Au­gust, .161.

That’s pretty much the defin­i­tion of streaky hit­ting. Plus he hits from the left side, something the Phil­lies are not lack­ing.

Second is Ibanez’s lim­it­a­tion on de­fense. 

Al­though Ibanez has played ad­mir­ably in left­field, May­berry can cov­er a lot more ground and has a pretty strong and ac­cur­ate arm. 

Wheth­er May­berry can play every day re­mains to be seen, but there is one more com­par­is­on that can be made here. 

In 2008, the Phil­lies had a sim­il­ar com­pet­i­tion arise between right­field­er Geoff Jen­kins and a slightly older but still de­vel­op­ing pro­spect named Jayson Werth. 

That sea­son, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, turned out rather well.••

Colum­nist Matt God­frey can be reached at mgod­frey@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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