Seems like roughly half of the fanbase in the “City of Brotherly Love” has no love, whatsoever, for former top prospect Domonic Brown, and would like to see him traded for a proven outfielder.
The other half, which includes myself, wishes that Delmon Young didn’t pass his physical so that we don’t have to see him defile the Phillies’ uniform while playing the outfield in Citizen’s Bank Park. It would have also given Brown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the real chance he needs to become an every day player in the majors.
Unfortunately, Young did pass his physical (somehow), and he will be donning the red pinstripes that have been exclusively correlated to the Philadelphia Phillies for decades. Yay.
There just may be a glimmer of hope for Brown, though, since it is likely that Delmon Young will start 2013 on the DL at the commencement of the regular season in April. That will undoubtedly have an impact on Domonic Brown to kick things off.
For starters, Domonic Brown should get his chance in RF, albeit a brief one, but with Brown already having 3 abridged versions of real chances in the past, it should be second nature by now, right? Fourth time’s a charm?
He must have come to the realization by now that the people previously pulling for him in the front office, and even the manager’s office, may not be so supportive anymore. He is on his own.
That can have two very different effects on him and his performance this season. It could make Brown’s career into an exciting and inspring “coming of age” story, or into a tragedy fit for Shakespeare. Which one? We don’t know yet, but there are always two sides to every story.
One school of thought proposes that it could motivate him to prove that he isn’t yet another highly touted prospect that can’t translate talent to major league production.
The second school of thought suggests it could manipulate his confidence even lower. He already has half the fanbase calling for him to be traded, regardless of whether that is fair or not. Unfortunately, life ain’t always fair, as we all know. If Brown struggles this year, we may never see him in a Phillies’ uniform again.
I am, hesitantly, in the first school of thought. I really think, and hope, that this is the year that Brown takes a real step forward in his progression despite the obstacle course that the Phillies’ brass has perpetually set in front of him. Why?
A few reasons.
1. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com lays out some compelling arguments as to why there is still hope for Brown. Including, comparisons between some players that ended up having extremely productive major league careers, yet started their careers with the momentum of a caterpillar, much like Brown. If you haven’t seen it yet, some of the names might surprise you.
They aren’t all outfielders with the same skill sets and circumstances, but the point is this…it is possible for players to turn things around after a rocky start (or three).
2. There is another comparison that some in the baseball blogosphere have pointed out before, and this one hits a little closer to home. Here, you can also see a comparison I churned up using Fangraphs.com on both Domonic Brown and our very own Chase Utley, paying close attention to their statistics at age 24.
As you can see, they are very close on almost all of them. In some areas, maybe even more than a couple, Brown has a slight edge. Obviously, they had completely different situations, as a whole, but this is also to make the point that Brown is still young, and it is still possible for him to have a meteoric rise in production akin to the rise of one of the most beloved Phillies in recent memory.
It may be unlikely, but hey, stranger things have happened. I mean, come on, Amaro has already named Delmon Young as the favorite to be the every day right fielder; if that isn’t considered strange, I don’t know what is.
3. The final reason is this, he has to produce for his survival in baseball, plain and simple. People tend to be motivated to accomplish much more when their backs are against the wall. It’s like every April when I realize “Oh shit, I gotta do my taxes!”. So I spend a night away from books, TV, and statistics and get down to business. OK, so my taxes and a man’s career are a crappy analogy, but you get the picture.
Anyway, Brown isn’t just playing for a spot on the Phillies’ roster this year, he is playing for the rest of his career. He is playing not only to show Amaro that he is worth it, but every GM in this great game. If things go sour with the Phillies this year, but he has some success in spring training and his limited time during the regular season, another team is sure to give him a chance. If that team is rebuilding, and/or more up to date in the ways of player evaluation today in the modern era, another team could find Brown very appealing.
As David Murphy, Phils’ beat writer, points out here, Dom Brown’s stats over the past couple years were very comparable to Delmon Young’s, at worst, and in some areas, better.
In fact, doing some simple math, if you multiply Brown’s stats from 2012 by a factor of 2.87 (608/212=2.87) to replicate Brown and Young getting the exact same number of plate appearances, it becomes even clearer that their production is strikingly similar, as you can see in the table below:
Who knows what would have happened if Brown would have actually had those 608 PA’s last year. To me, at least, it seemed like he was progressing slow and steady. Maybe, just maybe, Young’s numbers would have paled in comparison if Brown was given the job at the start of last season. Too late to find out for 2012, but not for 2013…
Let’s just say, though, for debate’s sake, that Brown starts the season out in RF, due to the initial absence of Delmon Young, and continues with the same amount of production (which DOES include walks by the way, ROOB!) as his previous visits to the majors. Hovering around the .235 mark for BA, .310 for OBP, and .390 for SLG. I don’t see Manuel and the “powers that be” letting him get the time he would need to make the necessary adjustments.
So, unfortunately, due to the organization he plays for and their antiquated thought process concerning everything from player evaluation to roster turnover, he will most likely end up coming off the bench, being sent back down to the minors (again), or, at worst, being shown the door for a “proven” commodity.
But, then again, what if he jumps on the tracks with that first train of thought that I mentioned above? What if, and it is a big what if, he starts off the season ”locked in” right out of the gate?
Let’s say, hypothetically, he explodes off the blocks batting .300/.370/.550 for his triple slash during the month of April. I think good ole boy Charlie Manuel might have to brush off Delmon’s seat on the pine for him, once he is off the DL, and tell him to get comfy. I really hope, for Charlie’s sake, that he has the common sense to let it ride and see if it continues.
Of course, those two situations are extremes. The more likely outcome, and one that Bill James himself has projected for Brown, is that he ends up somewhere in the middle. And hey, I could live with that as my starting right fielder. I’m sure Brown, Manuel, and Amaro wouldn’t be opposed to numbers like .274 BA, .347 OBP, and .792 OPS. They aren’t extraordinary, but they will suffice if the rest of the team doesn’t tank.
So, with all this being stated, I will continue to my own projection, including some others in the table to give a bit of context.
So as you can see, I haven’t given Brown nearly the amount of At-Bats as Bill James or ZiPS, but they didn’t have the knowledge of the Delmon Young signing when their projections came out. I also gave just a smidgen more than RotoChamp, but not by much.
The reason for that specific number? I think that Brown will do enough in his spring audition to obligate Manuel to keep him over in RF.
I also think that the way Ruf hits during the spring will have an impact on what happens with Brown. Dom Brown might not play every day, but after Charlie gets to see Young in the field a few times, I think Brown will end up with the majority of the playing time, especially since he is a lefty.
From there the dominos will start to fall accordingly. If Ruf continues on a similar pace this season as he had last season, he is pretty much assured a spot in LF due to Charlie’s love of the longball. With Ruf in left, Charlie will almost be forced to give Brown the spot in RF.
No matter how “iffy” Brown’s routes are in right, they have to be better than Delmon Young’s, especially with the tiny strides I’ve heard so much about from Twins’ and Tigers’ fans. He is certainly a better defender than Young, so you would think that if they already have Ruf in left every day, they would not want to put another defender in right that will have trouble getting to balls.
I would feel very bad for Revere if Manuel ever puts both Ruf and Young in the lineup at the same time. He might wanna call Acme for the rocket that Wily Coyote used while trying to catch the Roadrunner, ’cause he is gonna need to be able to fly, quite literally.
When it comes to how he produces in those AB’s, I really do think he will show up this year, for all the reasons stated above. I saw his power stroke really starting to come around at the end of last year, and that is why the slugging percentage and home runs are a bit higher on my projection. He may not have that much power in April, but once he gets his feet under him, he will start to hit like he was back in the minors once again.
I really hope I’m correct. I’ll have nightmares if I have to see Delmon Young in right field on a daily basis. It was bad enough to see him in the playoffs last year at NL parks.
In conclusion, I think that this is the year that fans of the Phillies will finally get to see some of the mammoth potential that Brown had showed throughout the minors, and we get our right fielder of the future.
I also don’t see Young starting in the field too often in his place, but he can certainly be a useful guy against tough lefties. Though, I still don’t see a reason for him on the squad with a lefty masher like Mayberry already on the roster, who is obviously a much better defender, and doesn’t have the off-the-field issues..
Young did have an incredible ALCS last October, and I’m sure Manuel will have that on his mind if it is seeming like the Phils could make it to October ball this year. But like always, we will just have to wait and see. And speaking of seeing some baseball…
Today is pitchers and catchers reporting to Brighthouse Field in Clearwater and baseball is finally here! Now we have mere weeks before some of the questions that have been floating around Philly all offseason will begin to be answered.
I love this time of year, and have to agree with something I saw on twitter today…”Even a day of watching Delmon Young is better than a day with no baseball at all.”