Mayberry making his case as Phils slugger

A righthanded power bat to help balance a lefty-heavy batting order.

A guy who would force opposing pitchers to actually pitch to Ryan Howard instead of pitching around him.

That’s what Charlie Manuel wanted for his Phillies team as the trade deadline approached last month.

The Phils brass ultimately felt they got just that in their acquisition of Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.

Pence has played and produced brilliantly for the Phillies in his short tenure here, so that trade already is justifying itself.

But did the Phillies already have a guy who could fill that role?

Enter John Mayberry Jr.

The 27-year-old outfielder has bounced around the last few years but looked good coming out of spring training. The Phillies, though, were committed to starting Domonic Brown in the outfield with Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez.

Still, Mayberry produced.

As most of you know, Brown struggled mightily in his first real stint in the majors, forcing the Phillies to go out and get Pence.

All the while, Mayberry kept hitting when he got his chances.

Now, it is definitely a stretch to compare him to Pence, simply because Pence has a longer track record in the big leagues.

Pence is a current all-star who has shown he can hit and play on this level, so acquiring him was not a hard decision to make.

But Mayberry’s output this year — in a much smaller number of at-bats — is definitely something to make people take notice.

In just 74 games with the Phillies this year, Mayberry has amassed 10 homers, a triple and 13 doubles in just 186 at-bats through Sunday.

To put that in perspective, the newly acquired Pence has 15 homers, three triples and 30 doubles in more than two and a half times as many at bats.

And this is not a knock on Pence by any means; it is simply a testament to the season Mayberry is putting together.

Pence was not brought here to be the entire offense, either. He was brought in essentially because he hits from the other side of the plate than lefties Howard and Chase Utley.

How about this comparison, though:

In 436 at bats this season — more than twice as many as Mayberry — Ibanez has 16 homers, a triple and 25 doubles.

That’s just six more homers and 12 more doubles than Mayberry in 250 more at-bats.

That’s a comparison worth making, and one that Mayberry reinforces every time he gets a chance to play.

Ibanez’s previous contributions to this team are hard to argue. But if you take a closer look at his current season, a few things become evident.

First is Ibanez’s streaky batting average from month to month.

He had a .161 average in April followed by .315 in May, .211 in June, .284 in July and, thus far in August, .161.

That’s pretty much the definition of streaky hitting. Plus he hits from the left side, something the Phillies are not lacking.

Second is Ibanez’s limitation on defense.

Although Ibanez has played admirably in leftfield, Mayberry can cover a lot more ground and has a pretty strong and accurate arm.

Whether Mayberry can play every day remains to be seen, but there is one more comparison that can be made here.

In 2008, the Phillies had a similar competition arise between rightfielder Geoff Jenkins and a slightly older but still developing prospect named Jayson Werth.

That season, if I remember correctly, turned out rather well.••

Columnist Matt Godfrey can be reached at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com