John Mayberry Jr. is fighting for playing time in the outfield.
The great thing about Spring Training is that, invariably, teams are going to have to make decisions based on games that are mostly meaningless. Whether it's deciding who will be the closer or who will hit cleanup, there are going to be some players who make or break their season during the month of March.
Among them for the Phillies is John Mayberry Jr., who is one of the few players still left competing for a starting job.
Mayberry, who had a breakout season in 2011 when he hit 15 homers in 104 games, saw a bit more playing time in 2012 thanks to both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence being traded elsewhere. He wasn't able to offer up a repeat performance, but still managed to hit with decent enough power (14 homers) in 149 games split between the outfield and first base.
Although Mayberry hasn't blossomed into the type of player the Phillies hoped he would be when they traded for him following the 2008 season, he's still been a valuable member of the team, even if that value lies in him being a part-time player to take advantage of his performance against left-handed pitchers.
And thanks to an outfield that is still in flux, Mayberry should get an opportunity to get a fair amount of playing time in 2013. With Domonic Brown the front-runner to the begin the season as the starting right fielder, Mayberry has to beat out both Darin Ruf and Delmon Young for the starting gig in left field. Given his ability to hit for power and play defense, he seems to be ahead of his competition.
The one thing that could prevent him from winning that job right out would be if the Phillies decide to go with a platoon in left field. It's something that they have discussed, and given Mayberry's struggles (.680 OPS) against right-handed pitchers, it would make sense to allow someone like Laynce Nix (.744 OPS vs RHP) to get more playing time.
It's still very early in spring training, so nothing is written in stone, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Mayberry named the starting left fielder when Opening Day rolls around. As far as his performance, Bill James projects Mayberry to have a .257/.313/.440 line with 11 homers in 110 games. It's a solid enough line for someone who is essentially a part-time player, but a strong spring could go a long way toward getting Mayberry more starts this season.