Player Projection: Mike Lieberthal

Throughout his career, Mike Lieberthal has been somewhat maligned by many Phillies fans. Some shuddered when his contract for 2006 automatically vested during last season. Now though, in possibly his final season before retiring, can Mike Lieberthal put together strong numbers for the Phillies?

Don't count out Mike Lieberthal. If for no other reason than the fact that he's in a contract year and players seem to respond to that motivation. Lieberthal may also be in his final season in the majors, too. He talked about the potential for retirement earlier this spring and it wouldn't surprise too many people if he walked away from the game after the 2006 season.

Certainly, it figures that this will be Lieberthal's final season in Philadelphia. Even if he does return to play next season, odds are that it will be elsewhere, unless he would be willing to accept a greatly diminished role and the smaller paycheck that would come with it. If he were to do that, he may want it to be closer to his California home where he has longed to play throughout his career. Who knows, perhaps the Dodgers will bring him into the fold and he can retire as a Dodger, playing in the place that he calls home.

For now though, the attention is on Philadelphia and just what Mike Lieberthal can provide for the Phillies offense.

Home runs: Lieberthal has never been a huge homerun hitter and his bat speed has slowed a little. It was 1999 when Lieberthal hit a career-high 31 home runs and in 2004 when he had somewhat of a last gasp of power with 17 round trippers. His average over 162 games of action has been 20 homeruns, but he won't see anywhere near that number of games, perhaps for the rest of his career.

RBI: With all of the offense ahead of him in the lineup, there should be some opportunities for Lieberthal to drive in some runs, but his RBI numbers have dwindled badly over the last few years.

AVG / OBP: Three seasons ago, Lieberthal hit .313, just the second time in his career that he's hit .300 or above. It was also the last time that he hit his career average of .275 as well. As for getting on base, Lieberthal has never been one to strike out too much, but then again,he has never been one to show much plate discipline and he generally winds up hitting weak fly balls rather than working walks. His on-base percentage is generally steady, but unspectacular.

Projections for 2006

9 48 .267 115 382 48 102 18 0 0 34 38 .337

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