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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.