The Philadelphia Phillies will have three open outfield spots for next year, as Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have been traded and Juan Pierre is on a one-year deal.
Theoretically, the Phillies have to be hoping Domonic Brown can take one spot, John Mayberry, Jr. can take another and a big-name free agent acquisition can play center field (Michael Bourn or Josh Hamilton are the top options).
But Brown is hitting just .241 with five home runs and a .401 slugging percentage. That’s a .729 OPS that is far below what the Phillies expected of him back when he was the fourth overall prospect in the game, according to Baseball America.
Brown has struggled notoriously against lefties, as he’s just a .188 career hitter against southpaws with one home run and a .541 OPS in 96 plate appearances. He needs to learn to hit same-side pitchers to be an effective major league player but the Phillies can’t afford to wait around forever for that to happen.
And Mayberry is a terrific platoon player who hits lefties very well but absolutely cannot buy a hit against righties. Mayberry’s stats this year are similar to last year in terms of the Triple Crown numbers (.274-15-49 last year and .254-14-46 this year). But his on-base percentage and slugging percentage have tailed off tremendously and his strikeout rate has nearly doubled.
Mayberry is batting .281/.321/.516 with eight home runs against lefties, and he’s got a career OPS about 200 points higher when he faces lefties. He and Brown could give the Phillies a solid platoon option in the corner outfield that could probably put up 25-30 home runs for about $1 million.
And in left field, it may not seen like the most intriguing option, but a platoon of Juan Pierre and Darin Ruf might work.
Pierre is batting .313 for the season but believe it or not he’s at .336 against righties and just .194 against lefties. He’s managed to hide that because only about a quarter of his plate appearances have come against lefties but that’s a shocking enough split that he should be platooned.
And check out Ruf’s 2012 Triple-A splits against righties and lefties. His .284/.377/.522 split with 19 home runs in 341 plate appearances against righties would get him some serious playing time. But seriously, look at his numbers against lefties: He’s hitting .392 with a .480 on-base percentage, .845 slugging percentage, and a ridiculously insane 1.325 OPS. He has 19 home runs and 48 runs batted in, and he’s done that in just 148 plate appearances.
That prorates to about 75 home runs and 200 RBIs over a full season’s worth against lefties.
Ruf may not be ready for the major leagues but he’s 26 years old and it’s definitely worth a shot. The Phillies could probably get Pierre back for a little over $1 million in ’12 and Ruf will be making about the major league minimum. That’s a total of about $2 million for four outfielders that could help make up a pretty solid platoon pair.
And that also frees up a lot of money should the Phillies want to make a run at Hamilton.