2013 Bold Prediction: Eric Longenhagen

Throughout the week, the Crashburn staff will be unveiling their bold predictions for the 2013 season.

Domonic Brown will be the first Phillie since ‘08 Pat Burrell to Walk 100 times in a single season.

Good at-bats have been hard to come by in Philadelphia. It was so bad last year that I overheard Phillies scouting personnel maligning the plate discipline of their big league lineup at a game in Reading last season. So atrocious and frustrating was 2012 that Philadelphia’s leader in Pitches Seen per Plate Appearance was Hunter Pence, who wouldn’t have known a take sign if Juan Samuel was prominently displaying it in the middle of a fresh, warm and beautifully sliced Liscio’s Bakery roll. This season can’t get possibly be worse than last in the hacking department. I predict that, in addition to a healthy Chase Utley, Domonic Brown will not only provide us with a respite from the hell of impatience we suffered through last season, but that he’s going to completely shove it for the next 26 weeks and walk 100 times. 26 weeks. Remember that.

Brown brings with him a terrific approach at the plate. I purchased an MiLB.TV subscription last season primarily so I could watch Brown. Every day I’d wake up and pull up the previous evening’s IronPigs game, hunt down Brown’s at-bats and observe. In addition to the typical things I look for, scouting wise, when I’m meticulously watching a player on tape, I charted the quality of Brown’s trips to the dish. Just a binary system of measurement, “Did Domonic have a subjectively good at-bat, yes or no?”

The results are, of course, flawed. Brown only had 240 Triple-A PAs last season and I only evaluated 218 of them (I won’t lie, I didn’t watch every single at-bat). It’s a small sample, for sure. Plus, the subjectivity involved makes it even less scientific. But I did it. I found that over 218 PAs last year, Domonic Brown had 157 good at-bats. That’s 72% of the time. Since he was the only player for whom I did this, my findings have no context. But it seemed impressive. It doesn’t matter at all and has almost nothing to do with supporting my argument here, but I thought you might like to know and I sure as hell needed an excuse to publish that data, it took forever to collect.

Ok, so why will Domonic Brown walk 100 times this year? It is reasonable to expect that Brown gets to bat 674 times this year (like Phillies #5 hitters did last season) and possibly even more if he hits well enough to be moved up in the lineup either permanently or once in a while. Walking in about 10.4% of his total at-bats (Brown’s career average when you combine his MiLB and MLB numbers is 10.4%, MiLB stat caveats apply) will give Brown 75 walks on the season.

In order to draw that conclusion you have to make a few assumptions. First, have to assume that Brown will react to Major League pitching the same way he has to mostly minor league pitching during his professional career (which he won’t, because Major League Baseball is crazy hard) and that the Phillies haven’t told him, “Screw walks, we need you to produce!” which is also entirely possible. So that hurts my argument. However, you’d also have to assume that Domonic Brown hasn’t gotten any healthier, more confident, more comfortable with his role or just all around better at baseball with another year of maturity. I think that, based on what we’ve seen this spring (seen, not counted, since Spring stats are garbage) we can say that Brown is ready to take a step forward.

So, if we can conclude that it is at least reasonable to think he has a chance to walk 75 times this season then it certainly isn’t far-fetched to think Domonic Brown has developed enough as a baseball player to walk one more time per week over the 26 week (remember?) baseball regular season and reach 100 total walks this year.

I’ve been all-in on Domonic Brown since I was a sophomore in college. Half a decade later, I’m still shouting it from the mountaintop. The time has come.

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25 comments

  1. TomG

    March 28, 2013 08:09 AM

    As soon as I read your lede, I immediately thought of the same caveat that you bring up further down in this post: What if management, sticking to the fiction that a walk is not “production”, coerce Brown into being less disciplined at the plate? It would be yet another way the organization could screw up his progress, which sometimes seems like an end in itself.

    I sure hope that doesn’t happen. To me, Dom Brown (and, for different reasons, Ben Revere) are two new reasons to be excited about this team and have hope for a 2013 post-season appearance by the Phillies.

  2. hk

    March 28, 2013 08:20 AM

    I’m with Tom on all counts. I’m excited about the idea of the team having two young, cost controlled OF’s and I sure hope the manager and GM would be okay with Dom if he produced a .375 OBP even if it came with a .250 BA.

  3. Jonny5

    March 28, 2013 08:24 AM

    I’ve been Down on Brown ever since he first came up. There were too many things I couldn’t look past I guess. His swing reminded me of a vulnerable lefty they already employ. His OF defense was less than acceptable at a ML level. He was awkward. He came from a pitching background which means his batting and defense were more than likely ignored for a long time. But man did he rake at times. I guess it’s easier to not get your hopes too high. Anyway, here I am again open minded and hoping the best for Dom, even though my enthusiasm is not as high as Eric’s is. I’d say 75 walks would be nice. I think Dom will be challenged by pitchers and thrown plenty of strikes which should have him getting more hits and maybe more k’s than some people expect from him. I think 75-80 if we’re lucky. Bold indeed Mr. Longenhagen, bold indeed.

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    March 28, 2013 08:33 AM

    While we’re talking about walks…

    Bobby Abreu has the MLB record for consecutive 100 walk season with eight. He’s tied with Frank Thomas. Eight 100 walk seasons in a row. That’s insane.

  5. CB

    March 28, 2013 08:57 AM

    I think the biggest factor of how many walks Brown will have is where he hits in the lineup. If he bats 8th, he could get 100 walks with ease. Brown has showed this spring to have more power than you would expect out of an eight hole hitter, so I’m sure Charlie would move him up in the lineup, as you also predict.

    Revere batting 8th is my other possibility, though lately he’s been getting a lot of time at the leadoff spot. Since Revere doesn’t really lack a plate discipline, just doesn’t get pitched around, batting him 8th could really benefit his on base percentage.

  6. LTG

    March 28, 2013 09:04 AM

    I expect they will be fine with Dom if he produces 250/375/475 but not 250/375/400. Basically, they want him to hit for high-end power, whatever else he does. And if he gets most of his hits with guys in scoring position, they will be even less likely to complain about a low but acceptable average.

  7. TomG

    March 28, 2013 09:25 AM

    I kind of hope they keep Revere at the top of the order because if he, with that speed, gets on with a single (or a walk or an error that he forces because of his speed – when he hits a ball weakly to short (or, what amounts to virtually the same thing, when he hits a ball to short), you can see the SS rushing because the slightest fielder hesitation means BR beats that roller out), he’s gonna be on second with a stolen base a nice percent of the time, I assume. With Rollins and Utley following? There’s good reason to expect one first inning run, at least. Always a nice luxury to begin a game.

    That said, I’d hate to see Dom buried in the 8-hole. But who else are they going to put there? (I mean once Ruiz is back.) It probably won’t be either of the Youngs. It can’t/shouldn’t be Chooch …

    So it might be Revere by default.

    That’s a bit of a shame, but, then again, if he can get on and steal, a pitcher’s bunt, well-executed, gets him to third, assuming there are fewer than two outs …

    Maybe Revere in the 8-hole makes the most sense?

  8. Mike W

    March 28, 2013 09:47 AM

    ESPN ranks Brown 497 out of 500 major league players. I look for him to be one of Phils most imporved players this year. (They will need it).

  9. DMAR

    March 28, 2013 10:16 AM

    As for Dom I see him hitting 6 all year. You’re smoking crack if you think he hits any lower than that. He probably is good enough to hit 3 but they would never do Utley the indignity of hitting him 6.

    I see Dom with a line of 280+/360+/850 OPS and 17-20 Dingers. As for walks I want him to take them when it makes sense.

    So I see it as Revere, Rollins, Utley, Howard, Young, Brown, Mayberry/Nix Kratz until Ruiz comes back. Then I see a Howard/Ruiz/Brown/D. Young/M Young

  10. Steve

    March 28, 2013 10:43 AM

    I was all in with Dom Brown for two years and I think he received a very raw deal on the hamate bone break. All accounts stated the hamate bone takes 12-18 months before power returns and no one, including Charlie seemed to remember this fact. He has looked great (compared to past) on defense as the ST progressed. I look for a serious break out year for DB. Thankfully, it doesn’t look as if the past mismangement of DB has hurt him as Wallyworld seems to have found his sweet spot. An outfield of Ruf, Revere and Brown would not be a bad way forward once Ruf learns the outfield. A year at Triple AAA should help. I saw Ruf improve as ST went but he is defiantely a work in progress. 90+ wins is a possibility.

  11. Jonny5

    March 28, 2013 10:50 AM

    @ Eric, Bobby A. walked nearly as much as he struck out for many years leading up to being traded away by Philly. Crazy amount of walks for a power hitter. Joey Votto can do it, but not many more.

  12. SJHaack

    March 28, 2013 11:11 AM

    @Jonny5

    Usually good power hitters will either be given walks or will develop good plate discipline. Prince Fielder has averaged 98 walks a season since 2007. Adam Dunn has averaged 100 walks a year his entire career. Hell, Swish has 90 walks a season since 2006. Barry Bonds had over 100 walks 8 times – before 2000, and then had 6 more 100 walk seasons.

    Bobby Abreu was an amazing, amazing player, and my bold prediction is that when he falls off the HoF ballot after one year it’s going to be even more of a baseball crime than when Kevin Brown fell off after 1 year.

    @CB

    Why the hell would Dom Brown hit 8th? Even with all the fucking around the Phillies have done to his young career, he’s the second biggest credible power threat on the team. Sadly, I think it’s safe to say that Chase’s 30 HR years are over.

  13. Cutter

    March 28, 2013 11:16 AM

    @Steve –

    You said that his power needed more time to return and he was still a work in progress in the OF.

    So how did the Phillies and Manuel hurt his development or hold him down?

  14. Scott G

    March 28, 2013 11:50 AM

    hk,

    Your comment seems to imply that if Phillies management is okay with a .375 OBP (allow him to walk), that would come as a direct result of hitting worse (.250 AVG). Wouldn’t it follow that if he’s walking a lot, his respective average would also likely increase (from a hypothetical non-walking point)? If he’s walking, that means he’s not swinging at pitches out of the zone, and likely getting better pitches to hit.

    My question is basically are you saying that it’s either:

    .275/.350 vs. .250/.375 (hitting and not walking vs. walking instead of hitting)

    or

    .250/.333 or .250/.375 (hitting .250 vs. walking in addition to hitting .250)

  15. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 11:50 AM

    A few weeks ago people were yelling at me for predicting a .780 OPS for Dom and telling y’all he’s going to prove me “right” about him being a valuable MLB player, and one spring training later, people are predicting .850 OPS… Boy it’s hard to take some of you peeps seriously about anything you say.

  16. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 11:56 AM

    @Scott G,

    Incorrect assumption. He will swing at pitches he think he can hit. The strike zone won’t change just because he’s walking more. The ability to take a walk is not the same skill as the ability to make contact with the ball.

    Pitchers MIGHT throw more pitches inside of the strike zone because they realize he won’t be swinging at crap like Howard does every other at-bat, but that will REDUCE his walks, and it’s not a given that it will increase his average, since, like I said, we are talking about two distinctly different skills.

  17. Free_AEC

    March 28, 2013 12:06 PM

    Have any bold predictions for Cole Hamels? Think he can get his fastball up to 88 MPH before the season is over?

    I wonder what that old bloodsucker Dave $$$ Montgomery thinks about that?

  18. Eric Longenhagen

    March 28, 2013 12:52 PM

    My only thought on the whole Halladay thing is this: I think he needs an entire season of rest. A year off can do wonders for an arm. I saw it first hand with Joe Savery. The leap he made just because he wasn’t pitching for a while was incredible. Maybe Roy needs a similar treatment. It won’t be this year because too much is riding on it, but it may be the best medicine in the not so distant future.

    Or he could just be done.

  19. Scott G

    March 28, 2013 03:35 PM

    Phillie,

    I didn’t make any assumption. I asked a question.

    You’re targeting my “If he’s walking, that means he’s not swinging at pitches out of the zone, and likely getting better pitches to hit.”

    The reason I said that was because hk made it sound like the only way Dom would get to a .375 OBP would be to have his batting average suffer to a hypothetical point of .250.

    I don’t see how better plate disciple would result in a WORSE batting average. It might not yield a better one, but I don’t understand how swinging at strikes (a given since he’s walking thus taking BALLS) could yield worse results than someone swinging at pitches out of the zone that would nullify potential walks.

  20. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 03:46 PM

    @Scott G,

    Presuming that Brown will only swing at pitches that he thinks he can hit, and so far, has produced a .250 avg, both conventional wisdom, and cold hard statistics, suggests that if pitchers are to throw more strikes and hence giving him more pitches in the strike zone that he thinks he can hit, his AVERAGE on those will REMAIN .250. There is no theory of mathematics that tells you that just because you have more opportunity to do something means you’ll do so at a more successful rate.

    “Wouldn’t it follow that if he’s walking a lot, his respective average would also likely increase (from a hypothetical non-walking point)? If he’s walking, that means he’s not swinging at pitches out of the zone, and likely getting better pitches to hit.”

    hk made none of the assumptions you made in your statements. hk merely said if Brown produced a .375 OBP but “only” has a .250 AVG (because he’s walking a ton), the FO might still think he’s a dud.

    Adam Dunn had a .236 AVG but a .386 OBP in 2008. Where the hell did you get your idea “better OBP must mean better AVG?”

  21. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 03:55 PM

    That said, as LTG correctly pointed out, if Dom all of a sudden becomes a slap-happy singles hitter, and produces a .250/.375/.300, then yeah, he should be considered unproductive. But as we already addressed a few weeks ago, if you’re a slap-happy singles hitter who doesn’t do very much damage when you do make contact with the ball, aka Ben Revere, you’re unlikely going to get walked very much since pitchers won’t be afraid to pitch to you. Dom, thankfully, won’t have that problem.

  22. Scott G

    March 28, 2013 04:05 PM

    Aren’t we assuming that to this point he HASN’T been displaying his potential plate discipline? If we’re not, then how else would he reach a .375 OBP other than to START to employ a good plate disciple?

    Has he been given enough of a chance to this point to consider his body of work a significant enough sample to start as a basis of his performance???? You’re saying that there’s no credence to improving your batting average as you see more and more ML pitching? Obviously there is a ceiling where experience related improvement peaks, but he hasn’t had that yet. SOOOO his .250 average SHOULD be assumed to go up if he had 600 PA this year. Thus, the more he does something, the more successful he’ll probably be.

    I think we’re missing each other here because he doesn’t have a reliable slash line for my examples to be based upon.

  23. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 04:10 PM

    Well, then you’re talking about things that hk didn’t mean to bring up. I think all hk was targeting was “I don’t care about walks. I care about production.” -RAJ

    Like I said, the ability to walk and the ability to make good contact are two separate skills. We know Dom can do the former. We don’t know about the latter. However, he doesn’t need the latter to succeed if he hits 30 HRs. Adam Dunn being the prime example. This is why AVG is a shitty stat.

    I would LOVE for Dom to have his walking skills, Ben Revere’s contact skills, and Adamn Dunn’s, hell just Carlos Pena’s, power skills. But you know who that is called? Barry Bonds.

  24. hk

    March 28, 2013 06:04 PM

    Scott G,

    I wasn’t making any assumptions. I was just saying that I’m afraid management would not appreciate a .375 OBP if it came as a result of a .250 BA and a lot of walks.

  25. Cheesecrop

    March 29, 2013 04:56 AM

    By Eric Longenhagen | @longenhagen | on Mar 28, 2013

    My only thought on the whole Halladay thing is this: I think he needs an entire season of rest. A year off can do wonders for an arm. I saw it first hand with Joe Savery. The leap he made just because he wasn’t pitching for a while was incredible. Maybe Roy needs a similar treatment. It won’t be this year because too much is riding on it, but it may be the best medicine in the not so distant future.

    Or he could just be done.
    ———————————————
    I don’t think he’s done just yet.

    As much as I’d hate to see Halladay go, if he had to leave us, I’d like to see him move to the west coast. I think that the coast might hold a nice advantage for him.

    I remember seeing a show not too long ago that talked about something called the “Pacific effect” (or something like that) as one of the reasons for such low scoring out there. For a (primarily) ground ball/strikeout pitcher, it might be able to help him, especially if the loss of velocity is in fact a permanent thing. It’d be nice to have Mother Nature take the sting out of any extra fly balls.

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