Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has not been shy in voicing his opinion about the team’s clubhouse and the connection it has to their lack of success ever since he inked his four-year, $50 million deal. In February, prior to the start of the 2013 season, he said of the Phillies’ clubhouse, “I haven’t seen any leadership.” In June, he questioned the team’s commitment to getting even the basic fundamentals down. In July, he said he “definitely didn’t come [to Philadelphia] for this.”
Happy New Year. Let’s get right to it.
Aaron Altherr is the type of athlete the Phillies have stereotypically selected in the amateur draft. They made him a ninth round pick in 2009 out of Agua Fria High School in Arizona and floated him a $150,000 bonus to keep him away from the University of Arizona. The German-born Altherr (his mother was stationed there as a member of the U.S. military and his father was a German pro soccer player) has had his share of developmental quirks. Labeled a project from the start, Altherr only began focusing on baseball during his senior year in high school (he was also a terrific basketball player) and entered pro ball quite raw. It took Altherr three years before he was finally able to stick in full season ball. In 2011, after 40 Low-A games in which he only tallied seven extra-base hits, he was demoted from Lakewood back to Williamsport. The SALLY League was just too much for him to handle at the time. He showed some progress in 2012 but was still considered a lottery ticket talent.
Domonic Brown was easily the most pleasant surprise for the Phillies throughout 2013. He finished with a .351 weighted on-base average, third-best on the team behind Chase Utley and Darin Ruf. He also finished with a .222 ISO, which left him in the top-20 among all Major League hitters. After years of fighting tooth and nail for playing time, he has finally secured a starting role for himself going forward.
Brown had a remarkable month of May, smashing 12 home runs en route to a .991 OPS over the 31-day period. He won Player of the Month honors and earned himself a spot on the National League All-Star roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to completely replicate his success in the months that followed, though he did remain fairly productive. Along with a concussion (July) and tendonitis in his right foot (September) hampering his offensive output during the second half, pitchers also became less willing to challenge him. Instead, they relied on pitching him on the outer portion of the plate.