Mayberry's experience against talented lefties could help Mets
Likely to face Lee, Hamels for first time, former Phillie to treat matchup 'like any other at-bat'
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Regardless of what Cliff Lee's Magic 8 Ball says, there is a chance that both Lee and Cole Hamels -- two of the game's best left-handed pitchers in recent memory -- continue to ply their trade in Philadelphia. Which means that John Mayberry Jr., a longtime Phillie and one of the National League East's foremost lefty mashers, may soon face his famous former teammates for the first time.
"You'll treat that just like any other at-bat and take the same approach against them as you would against anyone else," said Mayberry, one of two offseason additions to the Mets' 40-man roster.
Really, though? The same as anyone?
"There will probably be a little inside competition there," Mayberry admitted, laughing. "But within the grand scheme of things, you have to try to remain professional and do the things that you're capable of."
What Mayberry is capable of is neutralizing lefties at elite rates. Among players with at least 400 plate appearances against lefties over the past six years, Mayberry ranks third in the NL East in slugging percentage, trailing only Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and new teammate David Wright. He has 30 home runs in 534 career plate appearances against lefties, the seventh-best rate in baseball over that span.
As such, Mayberry should start regularly when the Mets face the Hamelses and Lees of the world, with either Curtis Granderson or Lucas Duda riding the bench. A former first-round Draft pick who played in Philadelphia from 2009-14, Mayberry boasts a history against nearly every established left-handed pitcher in the division, specialists included. And he has plenty of experience dealing with Hamels and Lee, whom he has never faced in game competition.
"Just being familiar with a lot of the pitchers who are in this division or this league, that only helps to shorten the learning curve," Mayberry said. "Hopefully I'll jump right in there and pick up where I left off and be contributing to a winning team."
That is why the Mets made Mayberry their only big league signing this winter outside of Michael Cuddyer, another right-handed-hitting slugger.
"I've got some skills that hopefully will help this ballclub," Mayberry said. "That's the objective, to insert yourself wherever Skip' deems necessary. That's what I intend to do."