TBOH Debate – Dom Brown and the whining Braves
By Mike Lacy
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Philadelphia Phillies. Joining me this week are Alex Cheremeteff, Pete Dymeck, and Michael Lecke. We will discuss the continuing whining of the Atlanta Braves and Domonic Brown‘s lack of power.
In light of their recent whining about the Marlins, are the Braves the worst or the absolute worst?
The Braves are the Braves. They are still living in the culture that Bobby Cox created. If something doesn’t go their way they whine. If it continues to go against them, they whine some more. It irritates them to no end when they get clobbered by what they think is an inferior team.
Let’s remember who mentored Fredi Gonzalez – that’s right, Bobby Cox.
In the latest “We Never Landed on the Moon News,” the Atlanta Braves had the audacity to accuse the Miami Marlins of cheating after being swept by their perceptively weaker divisional foe. With no evidence of sign stealing or anything else related to cheating, the Braves need to look themselves in the mirror.
They have nine position players with a strikeout rate (K%) surpassing 20 percent. As a team, the Braves have a 23.8 K%, good for third worst in baseball. Only the lowly Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros are whiffing at a higher rate than the innocuously paranoid Braves. Last year, I detailed how the 2013 Braves strikeout woes would derail any chance they had at reaching the World Series, and I was correct. For a very good club, the Braves have been nearly historically bad in getting punched out.
The Braves are almost the absolute worst in striking out. While their accusations had nothing to do with their own bats on offense, it is indicative of the woes the Braves will continue to face as the season continues. There are more facets to the game than pitching. While the Marlins surely did figure something out in their recent sweep of Atlanta, there is more to the story. Stop striking out so much and maybe we’ll listen.
I thought maybe it was all Brian McCann‘s fault, since he seemed to be the ringleader of the Braves’ “unwritten rule” police last year. But even without him, the Braves remain an utterly insufferable bunch. They are indeed the worst, and I am thoroughly amused every time an opposing player does something to annoy them.
Say whatever you want about the Braves but there’s no denying they are a model ball club. They develop talent as well as any organization and churn out young players who play the right way. The Phillies would be better off imitating the Braves than criticizing them.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
How concerned are you with Dom Brown’s lack of power?
Domonic Brown’s lack of power is very troubling. To the point where I’m beginning to think the first-half of last season was an anomaly. He only has six home runs since last June 28 – SIX! He hit 27 last year and made the All-Star team.
Major league pitchers have adjusted to him – crowding him in and throwing him soft stuff low-and-away. The onus is on Brown to adjust. Otherwise, he’ll be another one-hit wonder. Major League history is littered with them.
After smashing 27 home runs last season, many expected more of the same out of Domonic Brown in 2014. I did not. Of those 27 homers, 12 came in one month: May. Simply put, Brown had to average a lowly three HR per month for the other months of the regular season to reach 27 HR. Had it not been for a freakishly explosive May in 2013, Brown may have been lucky to surpass 18 HR if his other monthly averages remained static.
But this is oversimplifying it. Pitchers are throwing the ball differently to Brown. Each of his 27 HR in 2013 were hit to right field. According to this FanGraphs spray chart, Brown showed significantly less power to center or the opposite field. With pitchers avoiding Brown’s sweet spots on the plate, he is proving to be a largely less powerful hitter than most expected to see after last May’s outburst.
With just one longball in a little more than 100 plate appearances thus far, Brown is on pace to hit for less than ten HR in 2014. Even the greatest skeptic didn’t expect to see that much power to be zapped from his bat. His flyball rate has dropped nearly ten percent from last year. Meanwhile, Brown’s groundball rate has jumped from 42.4 percent to 56.6 percent. Everything from 2013 pointed to a regression in 2014. If anything, Brown was a terrific sell high guy, something the Phillies failed to take advantage of. His demise is unfolding before our eyes.
I was okay with Brown not hitting for power at the beginning of the season because he was hitting the ball the other way and getting on base. Now, he’s not even doing that.
The Phillies can get away with one outfielder who hits for no power. They can’t get away with two, and unless someone is going to give Ben Revere some steroids, Brown needs to be the one to pick it up. Yes, pitchers are focused on pitching him away, but I have trouble believing that happens on every pitch. He’s simply not taking advantage of the pitches he can do some damage with.
All of Dom Brown’s problems could be solved in a single night. All he needs to do is take every last piece of his Dallas Cowboys gear and burn it in a barrel in South Philly while warming his hands and singing doo-wop tunes with the locals like Rocky Balboa. This will transform him instantly from a jungle rat to a jungle cat and the power would be there the following day.
Seriously, though, Dom’s power outage has lasted since the second half of last season so it is a concern. He’s got to adjust to the book on him by going the other way with strikes on the outer half, taking more pitches to increase his odds of getting a mistake to hit and even moving closer to the plate.
He knows what he has to do and sooner or later the power will reappear. He may never slug over 30 taters but 20 – 25 will do the trick as long as he’s able to reach base more consistently. A few hard doubles off the wall to the opposite field would help, too.
What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.
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Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff)
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Michael Lecke (@Bee5pace)
Mike Lacy (@MikeLacy_215)