John Mayberry Jr. should be the Phillies’ starting rightfielder.
If for no other reason than to shake this lineup up a bit to see if this offense can get going, Mayberry should be given the chance to play every day.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the rightfield spot was in question. Ben Francisco, who won the job out of spring training, had turned heads in the first few weeks, making it a bit easier for people to get over the departure of Jayson Werth.
I also wrote about how the extended slump of leftfielder Raul Ibanez was more of a concern.
What a difference a few weeks can make — Ibanez has been a force since May started and Francisco has been essentially nonexistent.
While Mayberry might not be the cure for what ails this Phillies offense, he has shown during his limited playing time that he can handle his business.
Starting on Opening Day with a walk-off single, and up to his two-run blast that tied Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, Mayberry has proved he can handle major-league pitching.
Over his 44 at-bats so far this season, just 13 shy of his career season high, he already has accumulated 13 hits, seven RBIs and nine walks.
He also has shown a penchant for power — three of those 13 hits have been doubles and two others were knocked out of the park.
As we all know, power has been lacking from this lineup of late.
Francisco’s numbers basically reflect what this offense has done so far, especially if you subtract Ryan Howard’s numbers from the equation.
In 126 at bats this season — almost three times as many as Mayberry — Francisco has just 28 hits, 18 RBIs and 17 walks.
He has the same number of doubles as Mayberry, but only two more home runs.
In his last 10 games, Francisco has just two hits in 25 at-bats; he also struck out six times.
Don’t get me wrong here; Mayberry very well could not be the fix for this broken lineup. He could soon bottom out offensively the day he starts full time. But the worst that could happen is the lineup stays the same.
It is, after all, almost getting to the point of aggravation, considering how well the pitching has been and how little support is being supplied by the offense.
A lot of people would like to see Domonic Brown, the team’s top prospect, take over the rightfield job. Brown, who was in contention for the starting job, has been rehabbing an injury since the end of spring training and just recently started playing in minor-league games. He went 12-for-34 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs in just nine games before injuring his thumb.
He could be back to his minor-league assignment by the weekend if his recovery goes well, but the possibility exists that he could be out longer.
In Francisco’s defense, he is not the only one underperforming this year. However, unfortunately for him, he’s the one in the spotlight as the successor to Werth, who developed into a pretty solid player before our eyes.
Francisco still may turn out to be the guy who takes over Werth’s workload full-time, but what he’s shown through the first quarter of the season is just not acceptable. ••
Columnist Matt Godfrey can be reached at email@example.com