Domonic Brown Has Not Had A Good Time in Left Field

Left fielder Domonic Brown made another blunder in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins. With two outs and runners on first and second, Marcell Ozuna hit a line drive to Brown in left. Brown misjudged the ball and it sailed over his head, allowing one run to score. Another two would score immediately after, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled to center.

It’s Brown’s third misplay in a week and a half:

June 16 @ Atlanta Braves

June 23 vs. Miami Marlins

June 25 vs. Miami Marlins

MLB.com currently isn’t allowing embedding of this specific video for some reason, so click here to watch it.

Brown, of course, is having just as miserable a time at the plate. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single on Wednesday, but he still has the fifth-lowest weighted on-base average among qualified hitters at .259. As a result, FanGraphs lists Brown as the third-least valuable player in baseball, trailing only Michael Choice and Cody Ross.

Manager Ryne Sandberg gave Brown the night off on Tuesday, saying that he wanted to give him “a little mental break“. Likely not coincidentally, the Phillies recently signed Grady Sizemore to a minor league deal. If and when the Phillies deem Sizemore major league-ready, Brown’s regular playing time could come to a screeching halt.

Sandberg may opt for a platoon of Sizemore and John Mayberry, Jr. in left field, relegating Brown to a bench role. Alternatively, Brown could be optioned down to Triple-A, though it’s debatable just how much a demotion would help. While Sizemore had an abysmal stint with the Boston Red Sox, he hit right-handed pitchers significantly better than lefties by a .300 to .214 margin in wOBA. Mayberry has hit lefties to the tune of .423 compared to .290 against right-handers. There may be a slight defensive upgrade as well. While Sizemore is a shadow of his former self in terms of mobility and is more or less Brown’s equal in the outfield, the 25 to 33 percent of the time Mayberry would be out there would represent a marginal improvement.

For as much as we hoped that the first two months of Brown’s season represented an aberration, it has become a trend as we near the midpoint of the baseball season. Whatever they have been trying with Brown hasn’t been working and the Phillies can either continue riding it out or opt for a change. For what it’s worth, Brown’s ZiPS projection for the remainder of the season pegs him at a .330 wOBA, a vast improvement over what we have seen thus far. Mitchell Lichtman, of The Book fame, found that the projections are better at predicting remainder-of-season performance than performance-to-date stats. Lichtman concludes, “Until we get into the last month or two of the season, season-to-date stats provide virtually no useful information once we have a credible projection for a player.”

On the other hand, Brown has not made the correct adjustments to the evolving way pitchers have been approaching him, and there are a slew of mechanical flaws according to those with more knowledge of mechanics than myself. There are certainly strong arguments on both sides, whether to ride out Brown’s futility or to eventually move to a platoon in left field. One thing is certain, however: it would be really tough to imagine things becoming any worse for Brown than they already are.

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10 comments

  1. awh™

    June 26, 2014 08:34 AM

    Bill, a platoon of Sizeberry would be a defensive upgrade in LF, because even if Sizemore is only Brown equal defensively (a point I won’t concede until see him play – and I find it virtually impossible to think he could be worse), there would be an upgrade when Mayberry is out there when hey face a LHP, so as a whole t would be better.

    Sizemore had a 71 OPS+i Boston. Brown’s is 65. Right now they are fungible at the plate. Mayberry is a significant upgrade against LHP.

    Do it until Dom earns the playing time.

    One other thing: Sizemore is 5 or 5 in SB attempts this season, so when he’s on the bench he may offer some value that Brown does not as far as pinch running is concerned.

    • Richard

      June 26, 2014 09:43 AM

      “There may be a slight defensive upgrade as well. While Sizemore is a shadow of his former self in terms of mobility and is more or less Brown’s equal in the outfield, the 25 to 33 percent of the time Mayberry would be out there would represent a marginal improvement.”

  2. Carmine Spellane

    June 26, 2014 08:43 AM

    Projections aside, it is disheartening that no one in the organization was able to help this obviously talented young man reach his potential. It is also possible that Brown just does not have the mental or emotional makeup to be a quality player. It wouldn’t be the first time that a majority of scouts and personnel evaluators were wrong about a prospect. The same scenarios is playing out in Kansas City with Mike Moustakos.

    • Dante

      June 26, 2014 10:05 AM

      This highlights the problematic draft strategy they have employed for years – taking raw athletes and hoping they can mold them into ball players. Baseball instincts can’t be taught.

    • Andrew R.

      June 26, 2014 11:24 AM

      I don’t know how much of a difference coaches make, but I was sad to see Davy lopes go and then sad to see Wally Joyner go last year. Each guy brought something to the team or a player. And when they left, there was a decline in stolen bases/percentage and dom brown’s ability to hit a baseball.

  3. Brian

    June 26, 2014 09:31 AM

    The real problem here is that we should have traded Dom when his value was sky high. We could have reaped a huge sum for him. Now we are stuck with a terrible player with no real trade value. Hindsight is 20/20 though….

    • Dan

      June 26, 2014 11:08 AM

      You’re saying they should have traded him this past offseason? I don’t think Brown really had that much value. He had a lousy April, an excellent May (though it was noteworthy that he had a 21:0 K:BB ratio during the month), a good June and was only OK the rest of the year, with a middling .269/.329/.425 slash from July to the end of the year. I don’t think many people thought he had “sky-high” value with a couple months of good hitting after putting up bad numbers in the time in the big leagues the previous three seasons.

      • awh™

        June 26, 2014 02:33 PM

        Not last offseason. His value was at its’ peak when h was the #1 prospect in baseball.

      • EricL

        June 26, 2014 07:06 PM

        Dom was never the #1 prospect in baseball.

  4. Major Malfunction

    June 28, 2014 06:53 AM

    At the plate, he’s Cerrano from Major League. Throw him a fastball middle in and he’ll crush it. After that, it doesn’t matter where you throw it. He’ll either swing and miss or weakly fly out. That homer streak last year was a wake up scouting report for the league. And with those hands up high, that upper cut swing just ain’t gonna cut it.

    In the field, he looks like he’s on roller skates with a blindfold on.

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