Dom Brown Has Broken Hand, Out 3-6 Weeks

Via Jim Salisbury on Twitter:

[Domonic] Brown has a fractured hook of the hamate bone, says Ruben Amaro. These injuries typically require surgery. Did it on first swing of game

What and where is the hamate bone? Look for H in the following image from Wikipedia (click to enlarge):

The Wiki entry on the hamate bone also notes that such injuries are common baseball players. Wily Mo Pena (June 2006), Brad Nelson (2004 off-season), Dustin Pedroia (September 2007), and Chris Dickerson (June 2010) — among others — have had the bone surgically removed.

Pena was a promising young hitter, but hasn’t played in the Majors since 2008, when he posted a .509 OPS in 206 PA for the Washington Nationals. In ’09, he had marginal success for the New York Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, and finally bounced back last year with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, posting a .946 OPS in 159 PA.

Nelson never had more than a cup of coffee in the Majors. However, his ISO went from .180 in 2004 to .141 and .134 in the following two years after his hamate bone was removed. It wasn’t until ’07 that his ISO finally jumped back up to .207.

Pedroia’s ISO pattern is interesting. He played with the broken hamate bone in September, then had it removed in the off-season.

You can see that Pedroia started off the ’08 season with mediocre power, but gained it back by the end of the season. Is that a realistic timetable for Brown?

Prospect guru Keith Law of ESPN says “typical recovery time for power after a hamate injury is 12-18 months.”

I would go with Law’s theory rather than inferring from a small sample of cherry-picked (well, randomly cherry-picked anyway, if that’s possible) players. But at least in Pedroia’s case, there is some room for optimism.

The silver lining to Brown’s injury is that it almost guarantees that, when he is back to 100 percent, he will get regular at-bats in the Minors, rather than hitting every other day platooning in right field with Ben Francisco. Additionally, as Tommy Bennett of Baseball Prospectus noted on Twitter, the PECOTA projections for Brown and Francisco are nearly identical. The Phillies aren’t losing too much production now that they will most likely be using Francisco on an everyday basis.

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  1. Dave Gershman

    March 05, 2011 05:28 PM

    did not know the human hand consisted of that many colors.

  2. Dino

    March 05, 2011 05:30 PM

    maybe Conlin was on target about Brown

  3. Phil

    March 05, 2011 06:05 PM

    Well this certainly sucks. I think we all wanted Brown to succeed. If (and I know that is a big “if”) his power does indeed return in full in 12-18 months, perhaps this whole thing could be a blessing in disguise. It’s hard to trust such a small sample size but Brown clearly was having problems between his stint in the Dominican and the beginning of spring. Francisco had all but locked up the position and we’re barely a week in. I really do hope that the training staff does their due diligence on this, and if his power is truly zapped for 2011, they don’t try to rush him back onto the big league roster after that 3-6 week recovery period. The best case scenario is Francisco blossoming in right field this year and establishing himself as an everyday player. All the while Brown could be in AAA this year figuring out his swing and getting back his power, and would be right in line to replace Ibanez in 2012. Obviously this is contingent on Ibanez staying healthy and maintaining at least some level of competency this year.

    I’ve seen Francisco projected anywhere from around a 1.0 to 1.5 WAR for this year, but that’s been under the assumption that he’d be platooning. Given the plate the appearances of an everyday player, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that number could finish at 2.0 at least, if not higher. Obviously that’s not Werth’s 5.0 from last year, but hopefully the Phillies will also be replacing Kendrick’s 0.7 with another 7.0 from Lee. Not to mention the full year of Oswalt. In theory, they’re still improving over a team that won 97 games last year.

    Of course there’s also the issue of Utley’s knee… but I’m not going to sweat that because Wilson Valdez’s intangibles are AT LEAST worth a good 5.0 on the WAR scale. No one grounds into double plays with as much heart as Valdez, MIRITE? But seriously, I don’t think the sky is falling. It really sucks for Brown, but hopefully he recovers and is back on track in 2012. If nothing else at least we won’t have to hear as many stories about how left handed heavy the Phillies lineup is because they have a whopping THREE!!!! players in the lineup who only hit left-handed (including one who hits lefties just as well as righties). Okay I’m done now.

  4. Joel

    March 05, 2011 09:19 PM

    “did not know the human hand consisted of that many colors.” Then you knew about the numbers and letters inscribed on the bones?

  5. hk

    March 06, 2011 10:34 AM

    I suspect that all hamate bone injuries are not created equal, but I remember former Phils 3B Dave Hollins breaking his hamate bone in what looked to be the prime of his career after which it took him a a few years to regain his some of his power, but he never got it all back. I also remember Hollins missing a lot more time than the 3 to 6 weeks that they are initially claiming that Dom will miss, so I hope Dom’s injury isn’t as significant as Hollins’s was, but I fear the Phils are underestimating the time Dom will miss.

  6. Css228

    March 06, 2011 09:47 PM

    Bump for the Valdez quip as well.

  7. Mike B.

    March 07, 2011 10:58 AM

    I think this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for both Brown and the Phils. Phil’s comment about Brown using this season to rehab and get back into his groove, then be in line to step into LF in 2012 is dead on. IMO, the worst possible outcome would have been to have Brown platooning and not playing every day.

  8. timmy quail

    March 07, 2011 10:56 PM

    bill baer has the teeth of a sewer rat!

  9. schmenkman

    March 09, 2011 06:00 PM

    There’s also Tulowitzki last year. He was out June 18 – July 27 with the broken hamate.

    before the injury: .196 ISO, 26 ABs/HR
    after the injury: .311 ISO, 13 ABs/HR

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