Dom Brown was a breakout star for the Phillies in 2013. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Domonic Brown Had A Weird Season

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I’m still not sure what to make of Domonic Brown.

Even though he made the NL All-Star team this year, and even though he is the Phillies’ nominee for the Hank Aaron Award this year, and even though he seemed to enjoy a “breakout” campaign in 2013, I’m still not sure exactly how good Dom Brown is.

Most power hitters are streaky. I get that. Power streaks will probably always be a part of Brown’s game, and that’s fine. And when you look at his final offensive numbers, you see a player who performed as well, and perhaps a bit better, than even most optimists could have expected.

The Phillies head into 2014 with question marks at numerous places, including one of the corner outfield spots. Perhaps the Phils will upgrade in center field and move Ben Revere to a corner spot. Whatever they decide to do, one outfield spot is locked in for next year, and that is Brown’s. But as one takes a closer look at his season, one wonders exactly what kind of player Brown really is.

Brown finished the year with a slash line of .272/.324/.494 with an OPS of .818, 27 HRs and 21 2Bs in 139 games (540 PAs). That’s a darn decent season right there. However, Brown, who has been injury-prone during his brief career so far, missed portions of this season due to a concussion as well as a problem with his Achilles.

And when looking at his monthly splits, you can see a player whose year-end numbers were due in large part to an insane month-long hot streak in May that inflated his power numbers.

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 26 25 97 86 8 20 3 0 3 11 0 0 9 .233 .309 .372 .681
May 28 27 109 109 17 33 4 1 12 25 3 1 0 .303 .303 .688 .991
June 28 28 121 108 18 30 6 2 6 21 5 0 12 .278 .347 .537 .884
July 17 17 75 70 8 18 4 1 3 12 0 0 4 .257 .293 .471 .765
August 23 20 79 72 7 21 1 0 3 12 0 2 6 .292 .342 .431 .772
Sept/Oct 17 14 59 51 7 13 3 0 0 2 0 0 8 .255 .356 .314 .670
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/9/2013.

Of course, his May numbers were otherworldly, but were also an oddity. Brown hit 12 HRs that month, but didn’t walk a single time. You might have heard about that. It was in all the papers. And in case you need a refresher, here’s a .gif reminder of Brown’s 12 homers that month (courtesy of Crashburn Alley).

I could watch that loop over and over.

But from July through the end of the season, in 213 plate appearances, Brown hit just six home runs and batted .269/.329/.415 for an OPS of .743.

And from August 16th through the end of the season, in 102 PAs (it was during this time Brown missed games due to his Achilles), he hit .253/.324/.286 for an OPS of .609, with no homers and just 3 doubles. That .286 slugging percentage is particularly galling, although we are looking at a small sample size, here.

Some of that may be due to the concussion he suffered at the end of July and early August. But that’s a long stretch of games for a “power hitter” to go without power.

Now, it should be noted, no one expected Brown to club 30-35 homers this year. Most expect Brown to be a 25-30 HR guy who gets on base a bit. His numbers this year ended up being pretty much what people thought his ceiling would be, although his on-base percentage and walk rate probably weren’t as high as some would have liked.

Obviously, Brown did enough to guarantee himself a spot in the middle of the Phillies’ order next year and a spot in either left or right field. He’s also made himself a virtual must-not-trade commodity, unless the Phils are so blown away by a deal that they have to consider it.

I’m not saying that Brown is a fraud and that the Phils should look to deal him while his stock is high. I’m excited about what he did in 2013 and am hopeful he will at least match his production next year or, dreaming now, take another step forward. I’m hopeful he’ll be able to maintain his power stroke more consistently throughout the season and increase his walk rate. I’m hopeful he’ll continue to improve, even if it is ever-so-slightly, defensively next year. I’m also hopeful he’ll avoid the injury bug a bit better than he did this year.

Dom Brown showed a tremendous amount of potential and is one of the few genuine reasons to get excited about this team in 2014.

But you’re not crazy if you’re not exactly sure yet just what Domonic Brown is going to be.

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