2013 Phillies Report Card: Domonic Brown

I am guilty. I was driving the Domonic Brown bandwagon from the start, but early last season, I lost faith. I strayed and committed an act of Brownish apostasy. I gave up hope.

I’m sorry.

For years, it seemed like Brown would never get any stability, that he’d be bounced from corner to corner, up and down the lineup, from the majors to AAA, from the bench to the field, like the belly rolls on a running fat man.

For the first time in his career, Dom Brown went into a season with a guaranteed roster spot, a guaranteed position in the lineup and no looming specter of a potential replacement. And he responded–139 games played, 540 plate appearances, a .272/.324/.494 batting line. That doesn’t sound all that good, but that’s because we’re still adjusting to a more subdued run environment than in the decade that’s just passed. Brown was well above league average in all three triple slash categories, and even considering that he played left field all year, it was still a decent season.

The real coming-out party for Brown came from May 25 to June 3, a 10-game stretch in which he hit safely in eight games and registered nine of his team-leading 27 home runs. That hot streak earned him a spot in the All-Star Game and leaguewide recognition as a power hitter to be reckoned with. In a lineup that so often struggled to produce anything but double players, Brown was by far the Phillies’ most potent offensive threat.

It’s worth noting that while the primary reaction to Brown’s season is and should be some combination of happiness, relief and optimism, there are still quite a few black spots on Brown’s game. The Brown who made the All-Star team isn’t the Brown we thought we’d get–the plate discipline that served him so well as a young player didn’t desert him necessarily, but he’s walking a lot less–only 7.2 percent of plate appearances, and only 39 on the year. That means a lot of outs, and while his aggressiveness probably contributed to his home run breakout, it also meant that after the first week of the season was over, the high water mark for Brown’s OBP was .333, which is above-average, but not anything to write home about.

Then there’s the defense, which is a nebulous thing, but both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference say that Brown gave back about a win and a half with the glove, which, considering his incredible arm strength and athleticism, to say nothing of the concentration and coordination that allow him to hit so well, I find absolutely baffling. There’s no way someone who isn’t a total statue–and I’m talking, like, Pat Burrell or Mark Trumbo or Michelangelo’s David–should be minus 15 runs in left field. No way. That’s got to change.

But the power’s still there. Holy shit is it still there.

If this is the high water mark for Dom Brown, that’ll probably be at least a little disappointing, but he is now what we’d always expected him to be–a solid big-league regular with some serious power.

Overall, I gave him a solid A.

Bill Paul Eric Ryan
B+ B+ A- B-

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5 comments

  1. Richard

    November 13, 2013 09:38 AM

    You misunderstand the defensive ratings.

    Brown’s defense is not good, but he’s not 15 runs below the average left fielder; he’s 15 runs below the average player. Those ratings include positional adjustment. His UZR, for example, was -10 – which, yes, is still roughly a full win.

  2. Bubba0101

    November 13, 2013 10:14 AM

    I see no mention of Howard Eskin in this article. Thank you.

  3. Steve

    November 13, 2013 12:20 PM

    I have been reading some crazy trade rumors of Brown for Bautista which would lead me to trade in my fan card. Brown for David Price, I won’t be so upset depending on it being contingent of Price being signed to a 3+ year deal. Browns’ defensive liability is baffling but, then again, so was Reveres’. I would like them to keep Brown as he mixed with Revere, Asche, Rup and Franco would at least give them a young core in 2015. I don’t see 2014 with RAJ in charge as having much promise.

  4. mick

    November 13, 2013 02:48 PM

    Truth of the matter is that the Phils have so many holes and question marks that they should be looking at the 2017 season–they need a complete shakeup including the GM

  5. BobSmith77

    November 18, 2013 10:40 AM

    Brown has been a corner OF for several years now in the majors/minors and shown little improvement including a full season last year.

    Improved from ‘horrendous’ to ‘poor’ last year and at best maybe reaches ‘below average.’ Just isn’t going to be even an average defender which does hurt his value considerably.

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