When third baseman Anthony Rendon succumbed to a season-ending hip injury in August, it felt like the dark cloud of the IL was too heavy to bear, until Captain Jack Mayfield sailed into the spotlight – a pleasant surprise that put the Halos’ third base defense back on track for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Mayfield first joined the Angels from the Seattle Mariners in June when he was optioned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees before joining the Halos in July. He kicked off 2021 in a Mariners jersey, playing 11 games in Seattle before making his way to sunny Anaheim for his debut. His initial appearances promised a skilled range of defensive performances, as he moved smoothly from second to shortstop and third base, trying to find a solid spot in the infield. In the summer, he played every couple of days, mostly as a utility player that could be plugged in when needed.
However, Mayfield soon found his home at third base, eventually taking the field every day after Rendon’s hip injury rendered him a permanent resident on the 2021 IL. During season, the captain played 75 games with the Halos, and his defensive performance fell perfectly in line with other utility players like Phil Gosselin who also put up plays to create a solid infield lineup. Not to mention, his fielding chemistry with David Fletcher and Jared Walsh created synchronous plays and an infield connection that was fun to watch.
The 31-year-old infielder had 232 at bats as an Angel, yielding 52 hits, 10 home runs and 36 RBIs that earned him a .224 batting average along with a .272 on base percentage. Offensively, he held his own within the lineup, making some of his best moves during clutch moments that left Mark Gubizca and fans chanting “Captain Jack!” as he rounded the bases.
It may have been an unexpected shift for Mayfield and the Halos, but the change in third base defense created an opportunity that Mayfield capitalized on every time he took the field. Watching him step up to that role with such fearlessness and drive was an exciting gem from this season.
“He’s a survivor. There’s precedent for players like him,” said Joe Maddon. “Defensively, third base is not his most comfortable spot, but he’s playing it and he’s playing it well. He runs the bases well. He’s a good baseball player, so hats off. This is a guy, typical when they get an opportunity– survivor.”
86 Games / 266 AB / .218 Avg / .272 OBP / .387 SLG / .659 OPS / 58 H / 10 HR / 39 RBI / 30 R / 15 2B / 17 BB / 68 SO
Best Offensive Performance
Of course, Jack Mayfield made his mark on third, but we also can’t forget his contribution to the offensive lineup, as he provided fans with multiple moments of impressive power that gave everyone a reason to cheer for the captain.
July 22 vs. Minnesota Twins: A Clutch Home run for the Win
August 30 vs. New York Yankees: A Grand Slam for the Captain
September 23 vs. Houston Astros: The Jack Mayfield Revenge Game
Best Defensive Performance
The third base line can be a tricky place to field balls hit to the right, but with speed and precision, Mayfield made several plays this season on the line, securing outs left and right.
July 23 vs. Minnesota Twins: A Diving Catch to Turn Two
September 8 vs. San Diego Padres: Nothing like a Quick Play to Prevent a Run
September 19 vs. Oakland A’s: A Barehanded Play to help out Shohei Ohtani on the Mound
What to Expect in 2022:
With Anthony Rendon set to recover from his injury by the time spring training rolls around in 2022, it’s unclear how Mayfield will fit into next year’s lineup. His flexibility as a utility player and his ability to adapt to new situations will be his greatest strength as Maddon looks to cement a stronger presence on shortstop alongside a healthy Rendon and Golden Glove nominee David Fletcher.
Within the never-ending realm of trade rumors, it appears that Mayfield’s name has stayed out of negotiations, which means it’s likely that he’ll return to the Halos in 2022. The bigger question is where will he fit into the lineup? Mayfield made it clear this season that he’s an opportunity player, capable of adapting to new situations and quick changes in pace – a skill that would be make him most suited to take on shortstop given that that position has left a wide gap in the consistency of the defensive field, with the placement of Luis Rengifo at the tail end of the 2021 season providing lackluster results.
If not at shortstop, Mayfield has the power and discipline to anchor other loose areas in the lineup, and that’s an asset that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially as Maddon looks to secure the Angels without all of the shuffling and fallible placements that cemented the team’s inconsistency last season. Mayfield took advantage of an opportunity at third, but 2022 may be his moment to establish himself as much more than a utility player. It’s safe to say that fans should keep their eyes on the horizon for Captain Jack’s possible future with the Halos.