What can the Phillies expect from John Mayberry, Jr. in 2012? That may be the biggest question as the Phillies approach Opening Day. Following a forgettable minor league career, Mayberry was impressive for the entire second half of 2011. Can he do it again in for the Phillies in 2012?
Similar to Vance Worley, John Mayberry performed better in the majors than he did in the minors. Prorated over 162 games, here is how his 2011 MLB stats compare to his three years in the Phillies minor league system from 2009-2011:
Mayberry's 2011 stats are eerily similar to his minor league numbers in most areas, but 18 more homers and 35 more RBIs is quite a jump. How can a player do in one major league season what he couldn't do in over five minor league seasons? The answer might be as simple as a new batting stance.
Mayberry’s new stance on life
A .231 batting average as of June 1st forced the Phillies to send Mayberry packing for Lehigh Valley. When he was recalled in July, he showcased a new batting stance which yielded starkly different results. From July 22nd on, Mayberry hit .315 with 10 HR, 25 RBI, a .621 slugging percentage, and a .998 OPS. To give you an idea just how impressive that is, look at it prorated over a full season:
That's right, 55 home runs and 137 RBIs. Can a new batting stance really explain such a turnaround?! It’s actually not such a farfetched notion. John Mayberry is 6'6'', 230 lbs, and possesses a rare combination of power and speed. For an incredible athlete like that, it’s just a matter of finding a way to utilize his natural tools. The difference is small with a player like Michael Martinez, but the potential upside for Mayberry is enormous.
Coming out of Stanford, the Rangers liked his potential so much that they drafted him 19th overall in the 2005 draft and tossed him a $1.525 million signing bonus. As phuturephillies.com pointed out, Baseball America considered Mayberry “a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter,” but to correct his hitting flaws “may take him 1,500 at-bats in the minor leagues." It ended up taking him 2,656 at-bats.
Let’s dive deeper into his stats to see what exactly he was doing that made him so successful. Here are how some of his advanced stats compare to the rest of the league.
Mayberry was close to the league average in making contact and identical in his strikeout percentage, which is impressive considering his power numbers. His HR rate, extra base hit rate, slugging percentage, and OPS are all WAY above the league average. Decent contact combined with exceptional power is a rare combination. That fact becomes clearer when we compare him to Ryan Howard in 2011:
On paper, John Mayberry was a better player than Ryan Howard. Mayberry made more contact, struck out less, hit for a higher average, and overall he hit for more power. I’m not saying John Mayberry is better than Ryan Howard…at least not yet. But Mayberry has all the tools to become a serious threat in the middle of the Phillies lineup and now he has the stats to back it up.
For our final comparison, we don't have to look hard to find another player in a nearly identical situation: Jayson Werth in 2007. They make for perfect comparables because they both are outfielders with decent size, strength, and speed. Better yet, Werth was just one year older with only 8 more at-bats than Mayberry. Here's how they compare:
The main figure to focus on here is their similar OPS, which essentially measures their total production. Werth was able to translate his production totals into all-star caliber success in the everyday lineup and there is no reason to believe Mayberry can't follow suit. Werth's example may be the best to project big things in the future for Mayberry.
Projecting John Mayberry in 2012
Although his poor statistics in over five years in the minors is cause for concern, Mayberry's continued production for nearly half a season was not just lucky. When a player is lucky, you can normally point to a large spike in one area. That wasn't the case with Mayberry. His contact percentage, strikeout rate, home run rate, and extra base hit rate show that he consistently improved his game in many areas.
Mayberry had the tools all along to be a superstar, but for whatever reason, it took him much longer than most to find his stroke. Now that he discovered the missing piece with his new batting stance, he has the opportunity to realize his full potential.
That said, my projection is that Mayberry will be the Phillies' regular left-fielder at year's end. He will be a huge part of the Phillies lineup in 2012 and will hit around .270 with at least 25 homers and close to 100 RBI's. Prove me right, Big John.
Here are Mayberry's full Major League Stats:
Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB 2009 39 60 57 8 12 3 0 4 8 2 23 .211 .250 .474 .724 27 2010 11 13 12 4 4 0 0 2 6 1 4 .333 .385 .833 1.218 10 2011 104 296 267 37 73 17 1 15 49 26 55 .273 .341 .513 .854 137 3 Yrs 154 369 336 49 89 20 1 21 63 29 82 .265 .328 .518 .846 174 162 Game Avg. 162 388 353 52 94 21 1 22 66 31 86 .265 .328 .518 .846 183Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table