2015 Phillies Report Card: Domonic Brown

The Phillies officially closed the chapter on the Domonic Brown era, outrighting him off of the 40-man roster earlier this week. He cleared waivers and is expected to refuse his assignment, which would make him a free agent. For the first time since he was drafted in 2006, Brown will not be associated with the Phillies.

We had a brief glimpse at the good life, watching him mash homer after homer in May of 2013. The hot streak earned him his first and only nomination to the National League All-Star team. He finished the year with a .351 weighted on-base average and 27 home runs in 540 plate appearances. Brown, to that point, had battled a fair amount of injury-related adversity and was the odd man out in the Phillies’ outfield. 2013 was supposed to be his coming out party, his first big step in his ascension to superstardom.

Brown posted a wOBA of exactly .280 in both 2014 and ’15. The major league average for a corner outfielder was around .320. He was one of only 20 players to accrue -1.5 Wins Above Replacement or worse since the beginning of the 2014 season, per Baseball Reference.

Brown began the 2015 season on the disabled list due to an Achilles injury, then spent roughly two months at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. His numbers there — .257/.307/.352 with two home runs in 228 PA — were anything but awe-inspiring, but the Phillies still gave him one final opportunity to prove himself.

Quite frankly, he blew it. Brown hit four home runs in a span of eight games between July 30 and August 7, but that was as high as his peak went. He stepped to the plate 204 times for the Phillies and hit .228/.284/.349. He hit for neither average nor power, provided precious little on the base paths, and looked anything but graceful traversing the outfield. Brown suffered a concussion on September 2 and would not return for the remainder of the season.

Once rated the #4 overall prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus heading into the 2011 season, Brown will now have to attempt to keep his major league dream alive by latching onto a new team. Brown is still only 28 years old, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn things around in a new, more supportive environment with a new set of coaches. It became painfully clear, whether Brown’s fault, the Phillies’, or a combination of both, that things weren’t going to change in Philadelphia.

And that’s fine; it happens. His false start has very little to do with the Phillies’ failures since 2011.¬†Brown became something of a whipping boy while he donned red pinstripes, but his story is a sad one. Fans should not feel particularly chipper about his ouster, and we should pull for him to right his ship before it’s too late.

Grade: F

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  1. 100Bucks

    October 21, 2015 07:57 AM

    I am so happy to finally be rid of Dom Brown. I really don’t care if he revives his career or not; he was never endearing.

    • Romus

      October 21, 2015 08:21 AM

      Never made adjustments required…or was not skilled enough to make those adjustments.
      In hindsight, maybe waiting until 2012 and have him rake in AAA for awhile could have been more beneficial for him. Seem him and Heyward had a race to stardom going.

  2. Michael C Lorah

    October 21, 2015 08:36 AM

    I wish him well in the future and I hope he revives his career, as I would anybody, but it is time for the Phillies to move on.

  3. smittyboy

    October 21, 2015 09:30 AM

    I think the most disappointing thing about him was that he simply had no “baseball intelligence.” He often looked like the Oz’s tin man playing in the field and appeared to have no natural flow in his game – either with the bat or on the bases. It was difficult to watch him bat with men on base because he was invariably trying to do something that looked mechanical and led to zero results. He may have athletic ability but he is not a baseball player.

    • Pat

      October 21, 2015 11:36 AM


      I know, right? I get so disappointed when these athletic black players should become stars, but it turns out they just lack the necessary “baseball intelligence”. I mean, there’s no other explanation for not succeeding at something as easy as playing major league baseball.

      And as you pointed out, it’s that exact mental…softness? laziness?…that caused him to freeze up with runners on base. Don’t tell me hit ..319/.360/.532 this year and .284/.353/.475 for his career with RISP. I could see with my own two eyes that he didn’t have the fortitude to perform in those situations.

      • Rei De Bastoni

        October 21, 2015 11:49 AM

        Stop it, you’re the only one bringing race into it. Does he need to provide a list of black players that are very graceful and have a lot of baseball intelligence every time he disparages one?

        I read it as him talking about one individual only. You should too.

      • Josh

        October 21, 2015 12:32 PM

        Nothing about Dom Brown’s “blackness” is relevant to the discussion about his baseball skill. Please make your points without using racism.

      • Boo-urns

        October 21, 2015 12:44 PM

        What the eff does his race have anything to do with it? There are a ton of white and hispanic players that are dumb as rocks too. TONS. Intelligence — for the sport or in general — and athletic ability do not often align.

        Not sure what point you are trying to make, but when you add that qualified it’s not a very good one.

      • Stats

        October 21, 2015 02:45 PM

        He was actually pretty good with RISP in the whole scheme of things.

      • Tim

        October 21, 2015 03:46 PM

        For those who are confused, the point he was trying to make (through sarcasm!) is that for many folks, Brown’s lack of “baseball intelligence” appears to be subtle racist code. Compare it to the common trope of white writers complaining about Latino players not hustling. Or the frequently observed phenomenon of praising black players for their raw athleticism and praising similar white players for their hard work, grit, and hustle. Brown’s baseball intelligence seems to me very much of a piece with that. Jeff Francoeur sucks too and was once considered a prime prospect, but you never read about him not having baseball intelligence. He just sucks. I’m not saying that smittyboy himself up there is racist, but he’s making the same argument about Brown that racists love to make.

      • Bernie

        October 21, 2015 04:02 PM

        Thanks, Tim. Liberals make the same mistake but in the opposite direction – 2 sides of the same coin.

  4. Josh

    October 21, 2015 12:38 PM

    As a human being and a fan of baseball I sure hope that Dom Brown can revive his career elsewhere.

    As a Phillies fan, I’ll probably just boo him when he’s a visiting player.

    • Boo-urns

      October 21, 2015 12:42 PM

      Well, that’s just dumb. There’s no need to boo him.

      • rlh1004

        October 21, 2015 01:50 PM

        As if Philly fans need a reason…

  5. Boo-urns

    October 21, 2015 12:42 PM

    Good riddance. We held onto him for waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

  6. MoTown

    October 21, 2015 01:34 PM

    Wally Joyner & the Tigers might be a good fit?
    Dom can join JD Martinez as killer Tiger OF reclamation projects.
    Dom kind of has that MoTown vibe to him anyhow – wonder if he can sign?

  7. GB

    October 21, 2015 11:03 PM

    Phillies yanked him around way too much and their love of vets helped doom his development. Trading for and signing guys like Pence, who was not needed in 2011, and Delmon Young who was a disaster but still held onto RF to Sizemore who was horrible to Francouer who is barely above replacement level and playing them ahead of Brown was pathetic. Brown has his flaws for sure, but the handling of him was very bad and hopefully the new Phillies mgmt and coaches have learned the lessons. I’ve never seen or heard of a designated starter, which Brown was in RF, sent down after a rehab assignment. That was the final straw and it was crystal clear the Phillies had given up on him, were still trying to “teach” him a lesson and were lost at sea as an organization. Sandberg bailed on his team soon after publicly berating Brown in a highly unprofessional manner for having the audacity to believe he would be brought back to the ML team after his rehab and thankfully Amaro, Gillick, Giles and Monty were shown the door. What an utter waste of resources this organization has overseen since the drafting of Hamels in 2002. Hopefully things will get much better under Middleton & MacPhail & the new GM.

  8. Major Malfunction

    October 22, 2015 07:59 AM

    Phillies management mishandled him from Day 1. The organization’s inability to provide and stability to his career path no doubt wore on his mind for a long time.

    However, once you get past management’s poor performance, you get right to Brown’s lack of of skills that translated to poor performance. Now that we got to see the MLB version for several years, I actually wonder how in the world did he pull off being such a high ranking prospect?

    His positives is that he has a cannon and serious HR power. But HR power is almost unusable for he can only use his it on pitcher’s mistakes on the inside part of the plate. Then to pile on, he has never shown any speed even though he was recruited to be a WR in NCAA Div I football. Which is intriguing for you would think someone with “go to the ball” skills should translate to a GG OF with his routes and hands. If anything, he showed worse than average skills in both departments.

    His “baseball intelligence” or however you want to categorize it just never seemed to be there. HIs baserunning decisions were atrocious and his ability to adapt to how pitchers were now pitching him never materialized. It would seem all the pitchers watched the same highlight video we all did of his historic HR barrage that one month. The all realized you through outside part of the plate and he’s a weak roll over grounder every time. He power vaporized once he couldn’t be pull happy anymore. If you are batting .240 with 30 HRs, that’s acceptable. But when you still bat .240 and have a sub .400 SLG as a corner OF, that’s not gonna fly.

    While I’m sorry the Phils handled him incorrectly all those years, I really don’t think it would have mattered in the end. His game never evolved with MLB adjustments. He’s peaked and that skill set doesn’t fit in with future plans. I hope he’s able to sign with someone else and keep the dream alive.

    • GB

      October 22, 2015 12:48 PM

      He is the prime example of the Phillies drafting “athletes” instead of baseball players…for over a decade the Phillies drafting was awful and this fixation on toolsy athletes was a big part of it unfortunately.

      So, yes, the blame goes to the Phillies for drafting Brown too high and having the delusion they could develop him into a ML baseball player when he clearly did not have some of the skills necessary to be that.

      Add in the fact they handled him very poorly as a prospect: yo-yoed him back & forth constantly from AAA to ML for silly reasons, played vets ahead of him regardless of performance, shifted him from RF to LF and mostly treated him like a problem child turned a bad situation into the tire fire it became. Being sent down after a rehab assignment was an all time low since he had the audacity to answer a media question and believe he would be brought back to the ML team like every other rehabbing player would was the final straw.

      Brown probably should have stayed with football, but who could blame him for getting drafted and trying to realize a baseball career? I certainly do not. I think he did the best he could and the fact he turned himself into the 4th best prospect in MLB and got time in the ML and probably will get more is pretty impressive given that he really does not have many good baseball skills.

      • Corinne Landrey

        October 22, 2015 02:04 PM

        Brown was a 20th round draft pick. The Phillies made plenty of draft mistakes in the ’00s but taking a toolsy high schooler 607th overall wasn’t one of them.

      • GB

        October 22, 2015 04:09 PM

        Thank Corrine for the correction on his draft position, but it does not negate the fact they drafted toolsy athletes rather than players with baseball skills and Brown was DEFINITELY one of those mistakes. They believed they could develop anyone into a ML baseball player and failed time after time after time again. Brown got much further than the others, but ultimately did not have the skills to succeed unfortunately.

    • Francisco (FC)

      October 22, 2015 01:09 PM

      For Dom Brown speed wasn’t the issue, it was ability to run the base paths, get good jumps, baseball awareness, etc. He was horrible at all of it. Davey Lopes was asked about Brown and the word he used was : “Raw, very Raw”. The speed was there, but the ability to use it properly was not.

  9. smittyboy

    October 22, 2015 02:23 PM

    Frankly I find any racial overtones in my comment to be absurd, ill-informed, and downright insulting. Baseball intelligence is a characteristic that players – all of them, no matter their color, race, or religion, either has or does not have. It is an intrinsic ability to naturally – without prethought – move either in the field, the batters box, or the basepath in a manner which improves his team’s chance to win. All one has to do is watch any number of the highlighted (on this site) plays that Chase Utley made – either throwing home to catch a runner, throwing to third to catch a runner, or frankly, even getting hit by a pitch. BI is an ability that player’s innately have – it cannot be learned. I am owed an apology by anyone that would accuse me any sort of racial slur. I have better things to do with my time.

    • Bernie

      October 22, 2015 02:39 PM

      yup, but that’s what liberals do. I think I read here that using the word “female” is offensive – LoL.

      • Bernie

        October 22, 2015 05:15 PM

        I actually went ahead and googled on the “female” issue when I first saw it here. I’m just not convinced & it seems contrived

      • Bernie

        October 22, 2015 05:16 PM

        BTW: I 10000% believe that the Snyder needs to change the name of the Washington football team, but the ‘females’ is a reach. Source: dictionary.

    • GB

      October 22, 2015 04:14 PM

      Or the smart plays Rollins made….;)

      Sorry but the Utley reference is classic, the gritty white player who made all the right plays except when he didn’t which people seem to conveniently forget.

      • smittyboy

        October 22, 2015 07:11 PM

        I assume you have a library of those Utley cuts ? Boy…that must be awfully large ? I bet you could put them on a matchbook cover – you know, the non gritty side.

      • Bob

        October 23, 2015 11:46 AM

        That’s a major issue I have with these unquantifiable areas being used to evaluate players. Asche is statistically terrible, but he’s gritty so let’s give him more chances than many others got. Francouer is terrible, but he’s a leader, so let’s keep him around. Dom Brown is statistically terrible, and he lacks baseball-intelligence, so let’s get rid of him.

        I don’t see how anyone can comparatively rank someone’s grit, leadership, or baseball intelligence. In assessing an area where the subjective is the only evaluative tool available, there’s the very real chance that bias can get inserted into the analysis. In response, others are going to question whether the analysis of grit, leadership, baseball-intelligence, etc., is motivated by personal beliefs.

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