It almost looks easy. The Philadelphia Phillies are cruising their way to their fifth straight appearance in October ball.
In an all too short regular season, the Phillies have been noticeably succeeding in just about every aspect possible. However, the regular season only accounts for a ticket to the playoffs; in October, every player starts anew and all past statistics are forgotten. All that matters is the here and now.
Young outfielder John Mayberry Jr. has had a heck of a season for a player with only 220 at-bats to date. His .268/.336/.518 line demonstrates his healthy contribution to the team this regular season, and as the playoffs hastily approach, Mayberry will continue to be a key factor of the team's success, now and beyond.
Before Hunter Pence joined the Phillies, left-handed pitching had been the greatest struggle for the batters. Pence, since joining the Phillies, has batted a respectable .307 against southpaws. The rest of the Phillies core in their lineup has struggled against lefties (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez). Come playoff time, Mayberry's .307/.358/.614 line against lefties will come in handy for Charlie Manuel, whether it's a pinch hit at-bat or a start for a struggling Ibanez.
Raul Ibanez has struggled both offensively and defensively all season long. Due to Ibanez's .197 batting average against lefties, Mayberry has been starting more games against lefties. So if Ibanez struggles in the playoffs against left, or even right handed pitchers, those at-bats will go to Mayberry who bats .242/.322/.455 against righties. Yeah, that's a higher OBP and Slugging Percentage against righties than Ibanez's.
Before my next point let me make this clear: John Mayberry should not start over Ryan Howard! That being said, if Ryan Howard struggles at the plate against lefties (like he did all season), or in general (like he did last postseason), John Mayberry Jr would most likely earn more at-bats and playing time in the playoffs.
Assuming that Mayberry would bat in the middle of the lineup, Howard's production with RISP would be evenly matched as Howard bats .311 with six homers in 148 at-bats, while Mayberry hits .315 with two homers in only 54 at-bats. Mayberry would provide the necessary pop in the middle of the lineup if the lineup lacks that pop, and would surely compliment the Phillies' core of lefty hitters.
With so many disappointing endings to countless Phillies seasons in the past, there is no telling exactly what problems will affect them this October run, but one thing is a given; if the Phillies need a guy to run, field, hit in a tight situation, make an at-bat against a lefty, or start for a struggling or injured player, they can find it in John Mayberry Jr.