June 7, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Fantasy Baseball Position Battles: Philadelphia Left Field

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Juan Pierre, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies could use some power hitters in their lineup.  Neither Chase Utley nor Ryan Howard have seen the field, leaving a significant void.  Many hoped that former first round pick John Mayberry could pick up some of the slack.  Instead he is residing on the short side of a time share with the slap-hitting Juan Pierre as the Phils emphasize small ball.


Juan Pierre’s skill set is more valued by the fantasy community than by sabermatricians.  In some years his stolen bases carried teams in the category and more than made up for his deficiencies in power and run production.  He is 34 and Fangraphs’ speed score shows his running slipping out of the elite range.  At just over a third of the way through the season he has ten stolen bases.


Philadelphia is limiting Pierre’s plate appearances against left handers to only 29 of his 175.  That would not seem necessary, he has very even platoon splits over his career, with a higher wOBA against southpaws in both 2010 and 2011.


His skills have not changed much over the years.  He still has enough speed to collect infield hits.  In fact, he is collecting them at his highest rate since 2004.  That is aiding his BABIP to a lofty .340.  His GB/FB ratio remains slightly over 2.00.  He is slightly more aggressive this year, but making contact as well as ever.  The Phillies are eleventh in the league in steals, with the best overall success rate so they will not shy away from sending him.  He is a slightly-less-than everyday player and than knocks him out of mixed league (less than fifteen team) consideration.  He has specific value in deeper formats.


John Mayberry started five of the first eight games before his .222/.222/.259 line earned him more time on the bench.  He has barely improved it since, after Thursday’s game it sat at .225/.260/.326.  Strikeouts are a big problem for him, he is whiffing in 27.4% of plate appearances with a 0.18 BB/K.  He was often over 20% in his minor league career but managed a 18.6% rate in almost 300 plate appearances in 2011.


Mayberry’s power is missing thus far.  He hit fifteen home runs in 2011 but has only two in 2012 while closing in on 150 PAs.  His GB/FB has increased from 1.03 to 1.88.  His HR/FB was 17.4%, now it is 7.7%.  After a big 2007 season he consistently hit between fifteen and twenty home runs in the high minors.  Those seasons took him through many traditional prime years, as he is 29 and as major league ready as he will ever be.  He should be capable of producing better than he is now, but may not hit well enough to demand an everyday job.


He is seeing a heavy dose of left handed pitching and his major league splits indicate that is to his advantage.  He had a decent month of May that is sandwiched between an ice cold April and June.  He can shift to first base, and until Ryan Howard comes back is worth watching.  A sustained hot streak will earn him playing time.



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