COMMENTARY | There will be little competition this preseason in Clearwater, Fla., for the Philadelphia Phillies.
One spot still open is on the bench as a right-handed outfielder. The two candidates eager to battle it out this spring for this spot are Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr.
Both of these men have shown promise during their time with the Phillies, yet not enough to ever fully secure a starting job. Having as many similarities as they do differences, the decision will not be an easy one.
Pro: Darin Ruf
Ruf is a pure power bat. He swings big and when he connects, the ball has the potential to land far away from home plate. In the brief opportunities he has had at the major league level, Ruf has a 162-game average of 32 home runs. The last time the Phillies had anyone hit 30 home runs in a season was in 2011 when Ryan Howard went deep 33 times. Given the opportunity to play every day, the Phillies could see their run totals increase with Ruf in the lineup.
Age also plays a factor in this possibly trivial decision. Ruf will come into the 2014 season at 27 years old. While this does not make him a pup, he is still young enough to turn things around and grow as a hitter given the right support from coaches and teammates.
Ruf has an extremely high upside. Best of all for management, he comes cheap.
Con: Darin Ruf
A lack of experience is the biggest worry with Ruf. This is, of course, to no fault of his own as the decision was mostly ultimately in the hands of others. Ruf has succeeded as much as he can at the minor league level while maintaining professionalism with the Phillies.
Even if Ruf had played more it may have just exposed his weaknesses further. As a power hitter, Ruf strikes out a lot, possibly too much based on his batting average. His batting average will probably not be much higher than .260 in a full season. Ruf does still manage to get on base at a decent rate, but once pitchers figure him out he might draw fewer walks, meaning less time on the base path.
Pro: John Mayberry Jr.
After 437 games played and over 1,100 at-bats, it's hard to come up with very many positives about Mayberry Jr.
The first is that he can play multiple positions and he can do them pretty well. All three outfield positions plus first base, Mayberry Jr. has mastered them all.
Mayberry Jr. is also valuable because he has decent power. The majority of this power is to the gaps, creating doubles rather than home runs. There is little else nice to say about Mayberry Jr.'s batting skills as his true worth is more on his skills with the glove.
Con: John Mayberry Jr.
Like shooting fish in a barrel, Mayberry Jr. has plenty of exposed weaknesses easily noticed.
Beginning with his batting average that dips each season, Mayberry Jr. does not possess the skills needed to be on a major league roster. Lifetime, Mayberry Jr. has a .268 batting average as a pinch-hitter. This is actually better than his overall .245 batting average, which is his worst quality of all. Mayberry Jr. simply does not get on base. His career on-base percentage is .304 and there has not been any sign that it will improve or even remain consistent.
The biggest con of all when it comes to Mayberry Jr. is that we have seen his potential. The man is now 30 years old. Originally drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers, Mayberry Jr. is just another player on a long list of former top prospects struggling to survive in baseball.
Who will the Phillies go with as the right-handed outfield bat on the 2014 team? Considering they could have easily departed from the Mayberry Jr. era during the arbitration hearings, they may have already made up their mind.
Tim Boyle is a lifelong and loyal Philadelphia sports follower who enjoys writing about his favorite teams and discovering unique statistical facts.
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