I have been a fan of John Mayberry Jr. since being brought back up from the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the summer of 2011.
I was pushing for him to become an everyday starter for the 2012 season. He should a great deal of promise and potential in late 2011.
From July through September of 2011, Mayberry hit .301 with 12 homeruns and 37 RBI. If he could maintain that production over the course of a season, he may have been one of the most cost-effective producers on the team for the 2012 season.
There was speculation as to whether or not he could be an everyday starter come spring training. During the course of spring training, he suffered dismally at the plate, but Charlie Manuel still penciled him in for left field and first base as an everyday starter.
The Phillies would use a number of different options between first base and left field, having Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Ty Wiggington and even Jim Thome trying their hands at first base. Left field was also seeing a few players circulate it, including Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Nix, Hector Luna and even Wigginton.
With the Phillies offense suffering approaching the trade deadline, the Phillies decided to deal a few players to help prepare for the following season. This allowed some of the young players to try to prove themselves able to play every day.
With Howard and Chase Utley back in the lineup, the offense was somewhat more stable.
The team saw many young and still undefined players try to earn their way into guaranteed starting positions.
With Shane Victorino having been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mayberry became the starter in center field for the bulk of the end of the season. Mayberry proved himself to be a better player during the summer than he was during the spring again.
That brings up the question as to whether he is a warm-weather hitter or if he is better with consistent play.
For some time, I thought he was proving himself to be a warm weather hitter, a statement that would be supported by looking at his numbers for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
In 2011 before the all star break he hit .244 with a .326 on-base percentage, a .439 slugging and a .765 OPS. For the same season after the all star break he hit .299 with a .354 OBP, .576 SLG and .930 OPS.
In the 2012 season before the All Star break he hit for .232 with a .269 OBP, .377 SLG and .646 OPS. After the all star break he hit .256 with a .327 OBP, .410 SLG and .737 OPS.
During both of these seasons, the only two seasons where he has had a fair major league sampling, he has received substantially more play time after the All Star break.
So what do these numbers prove?
What has been answered after he spent the entire year in the majors for the first time and got several opportunities to prove himself?
We cannot be sure if he can be an everyday starter.
He certainly has a history of performing better when he is playing every day, but he also has a history of being a very streaky hitter. We cannot say that he is just a warm weather hitter, because he hit above average during the month of May in 2012 but was in the basement in April and June.
Judging him by his numbers, he hit .245 with 14 homeruns and 46 RBI across the entire season, which is slightly lower than the .263, 20 homerun, 57 RBI season that Scott Hairston had, a player with whom the Phillies have been linked this offseason.
Mayberry did hit better with a guarantee to play every day, there is no question about that.
Of course, there is a correlation to this and the return of both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to the lineup. Perhaps the lessening of the pressure on him about playing every day and being one of the key producers helped him to feel more comfortable and perform better overall.
One thing is for sure: 2013 will be different than 2012.
Mayberry is a solid defensive player, particularly in the corner outfield positions, and, as of right now, there are no guarantees for either corner outfield position. Mayberry is in an interesting position because he may have a second season to try to prove himself, and maybe this time he will live up to the expectations that were once placed upon him.