Domonic Brown needs to step up.
With Hunter Pence now in San Francisco and no one stepping in to take the full-time left field job in 2012, the Phillies are now desperately in need of two corner outfielders. Add on top of that the fact that, through the last four seasons, Ruben Amaro Jr. has traded away a boatload of offensive talent, all while refusing to budge on Brown, and the pressure on the young outfielder to become the player he was projected to be as a prospect is building fast.
The Phillies really need him to come through. To that end, they gave him his first true shot in the big leagues in 2012 (in 2010 he got a short look while Shane Victorino was on the DL and again as a September call-up and in 2011 he only had a month to prove himself before the plug was pulled).
For Brown, the results were mixed. He showed flashes of being the player everyone thinks he can be, but he was also plagued by long stretches of ineffectiveness, which leave his final numbers looking very bleak. He finished with a triple slash line of .235/.316/.396, while striking out 34 times and walking 21 times. He had five home runs and 26 RBI. Even more disheartening: he not only didn’t register a stolen base, he didn’t even make an attempt.
One plus for Brown was, of his 44 hits, 18 of them were for extra bases. He did show a fair amount of power, despite the anemic triple slash. He also got on base at a high rate, as the .316 OBP to a .235 batting average indicates.
However, what needs to be remembered about these numbers at the plate is that they came over a very small sample size (212 plate appearances). He was also riddled by poor luck, posting a .260 BABIP. With an average BABIP of .300 (the league mean over the course of an entire season), Brown would’ve hit .272. Poor luck is not something to be ignored in this case, especially because the sample size was so small. Those things tend to even out and there are signs Brown can be a better hitter than the surface numbers this season showed. In the end, his .309 wOBA wasn’t atrocious.
In the field, it was more of the same from Brown. He exhibited fantastic athleticism and an amazing throwing arm (seven outfield assists in 51 games is a ridiculous number). But he also showed an inability to routinely track fly balls, coming up with more than a few misplays.
All and all, it seems like too short a viewing to truly evaluate Brown. Alas, that is what I have been tasked to do, so evaluate I must.
GRADE: C. This grade probably should be lower. But I’m giving Brown a pass here because of the poor luck and the small sample. I think it’s also important to remember that, even though he seems older, Brown is still a very young player (This past season was his age 24 season). Many guys don’t get it figured out on the big league level until their mid-20s, and there’s enough here to suggest Brown will also reach a higher plateau of performance as he ages. That said, time is running out for him to become the player everyone expected.