Analysis

Phillies Nation Endorses Domonic Brown for Right Field

http://philliesnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Dom-Brown-ST-2012.jpg

We, Phillies Nation, endorse Domonic Brown as our choice for 2013 starting right fielder.

The offense is slowly recovering from the 2011 meltdown, and the Phillies could suffer another regression if the wrong policies take hold. The Phillies are embroiled in unstable alignments that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the undereducated talk box, from Philadelphians who, because the results are not instantaneous, are not willing to continue the progress that started in 2010. Those forces are eroding even the most well-versed Phillies’ fans’ faith in a 25-year old. Nearly 40 years after a horrible start for Mike Schmidt and nearly ten after the horrible start for Chase Utley, all Phillies’ fans’ ability to cheer for a winner are cheapened by the front office bringing in two of 2012’s worst players in Major League Baseball to compete for an outfield position: Delmon Young and Joe Mather. Astonishingly, even the very right to suit up on the active 25-man roster is being challenged.

That is the context for one of the Opening Day outfield spots, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear.

The boxed and quoted text above comes in part from the 2012 New York Times endorsement of President Barack Obama. But the rest of it, the parts about Schmidt, Utley, Young, and Mather? That’s from our collective hearts and minds at Phillies Nation.

Before we wrote this and put it together, we went back and forth. Can a blog do this? Has any other blog done this? Did everyone on staff agree? We had one conscientious objector: our CEO Brian Michael. While we don’t want to disrupt the engine that drives our traffic and our TV show, we saw this as an opportunity to convince not only Brian but also the fans that may feel like Brian does.

So, for the first time ever, we are making an official endorsement: we are endorsing Domonic Brown to be the Philadelphia Phillies everyday right fielder.

Brown has made it very difficult to ignore his bat this Spring. With increased patience and a shorter stroke that announcers Gary Matthews and Tom McCarthy are attributing to working with Wally Joyner, Brown has posted a .350/.519/.850 triple-slash line with 3 HR, 10 runs, and six walks in nine games. The early returns say Brown is an improved player. The early returns are also from an incredibly unstable, small sample size, much like his career numbers that compare surprisingly and are mostly better than the numbers Schmidt and Utley put up at the same points in their early careers.

http://philliesnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/EarlySamples.jpg

He is the Best Player For the Job – Right Now

Brown’s competition is likely limited to John Mayberry, Darin Ruf, a returning D. Young, and a few outside contenders like Mather and Jermaine Mitchell. Ruf can be removed from the competition for right field because, quite frankly, he is still very green in left field. That leaves Brown to compete with Mayberry and D. Young for right field.

Mayberry is now 29 years old and was not only not able to capitalize on the strides he made in 2011 but took several steps back, seeing his K% increase, his OBP take a 40 point hit, and his slugging drop by nearly 100 points. Mayberry has value in platoon situations but should not be used at the expense of a player who may have the ability to develop into something more, a group that includes Brown and D. Young.

D. Young is now 27 years old and was once a top prospect. He has had every opportunity, and then some, to play at the Major League level and has not delivered as advertised. Areas where D. Young once excelled in the Minors are now absolute liabilities, with worst-in-baseball quality defense in the easier of the two corner outfield positions (left) and base running that went from a quiet strength to a non-existent feature of his game. Young has already had five seasons with more MLB PA than Brown has had in his career (492).

Brown’s early 10.4% BB rate is twice as good as Young’s and higher than Mayberry’s. Brown strikes out less than Mayberry and only slightly more than Young, but has more power per ISO. Brown has one less steal in 1232 PA less than Young over the last three seasons.

He is the Best Player For the Job – For the Future

While Brown is only two years younger than Young, there is greater reason to believe Brown’s trajectory will be one that moves up as opposed to the one Young is on, which, all off the field issues aside, is one that is headed down and fast. Here’s a non-cherry picked sample of both regular and advanced metrics for Young and their linear trends:

DelmonYoungtrajectory

Notice how the slopes of the lines all go down?

And what is the end game for the best case scenario for Young? He’s a free agent after the season ends, anyways. Dom Brown isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2015.

As for Mayberry, there are a few scenarios, even before Young was signed, that he may not even make the team yet alone be a part of their future plans.

The Phillies Need Him to Develop

The Phils have put themselves in quite the predicament: they refused to trade Brown for Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. They weren’t really able to trade him while he was injured. Now, with his value at its lowest, they best they could net was assumed to be Alfonso Soriano?

If the Phillies determine that Brown just isn’t a good fit, they need to play him to find out. They need to let him play to see if he truly fits into their plans or not. And playing Dom Brown is an absolute win/win: the Phillies will either have an every day player on their roster under their control until 2018 or they can still trade him for an aging veteran with a bloated contract. Teams will always take chances on players like Brown – former top prospects with a lot of tools, until they are about 28 or 29. See Young, Delmon. Then they become John Mayberry.

But there is an even greater reason for the Phillies needing him to develop: the super-thin 2014 outfield free agent crop, headlined by an injury-plagued Jacoby Ellsbury, an injury-plagued Shin Shoo Choo, and Hunter Pence. The price tags will not match the production for those players.

Because he is both the best option for the 2013 and the future, and the Phillies need him to develop, here are a few reasons why he will succeed.

He Finally Has Reasonable Expectations

Remember the first time you saw Jason Heyward play? How about Mike Trout at age 19 or Bryce Harper at 18? Brown is now 25, only 0.6 years older than the average age that players made their Major League debut from from 2005-2009. When Brown smashed a double in his first at-bat and electrified Citizen’s Bank Park with his arm and base running, he was 22 years old, 2.4 years younger than that average age. Brown no longer has rookie eligibility but he no longer has the expectations of a top prospect. He is more confident and he has two goals: play hard and be fundamentally sound.

Part of the let down should be pinned on us: the media and the fans. Admittedly, it has been a long while since the Phillies have had a prospect of any significance. To find someone as rated as highly as Brown by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus being called up to the Phillies, you would have to go all the way back to Scott Rolen. Brown’s tools were flashy and exciting and they were seemingly immediate. We, as the media and fans, should have taken a pause and realized the insignificance of the sample size, for both the positive and negative.

He is Finally Healthy

Brown battled hamstring issues in 2012 while recovering from a broken hammate bone suffered in 2011. It shouldn’t be seen as a coincidence that Brown is suddenly finding the power he once had in the minors: a combination of stronger legs and better wrists is reason enough to believe that Brown will find the power that allowed him to hit 20 HRs in the Minors in 2010, yet alone a change in approach.

Because He is 25 and Time is On His Side

Brandon Phillips is one of the premier second basemen in baseball. Phillips bounced up and down and spent parts of four seasons in Triple-A until finally, at age 25 in 2006, he became an everyday Major Leaguer and later an All-Star. Phillips was the #7 prospect in baseball in 2003 and didn’t even get a fair shake at a shot until 2006. All-Stars last year, Mike Napoli was not a Major League regular until age 28 while Mark Trumbo was well regarded but was not a regular until age 25. Brown is still very young and still has plenty of time to make an impact.

On behalf of Phillies Nation, I hope you will read and debate what is our first ever official endorsement of a player during a Spring Training battle. We invite you to discuss in the comment section below.

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. NT90

    March 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    +1

    • schmenkman

      March 5, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Agreed — excellent post.

  2. Andrew from Waldorf

    March 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    AFW endorsed him for left field in 2011.

    Nice to see the Phillies and PN finally coming to their senses.

    When Ruben gets fired I will be a free consultant for the Phillies or they can just read this site.

    Have a good day everyone!

    • Brian Michael

      March 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Was he more ready then or now?

      • Andrew from Waldorf

        March 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        If anything he was more sound mentally in 2011 than now.

        But its pretty moot.

        I just thnk the 2011 team wins as many games with him in left as Ibanez and would have had a better shot in that playoff series.

        And if that had happened. today we would know if he will sink or swim.

        Definately think the team has handled him poorly.

        2011 you play him or trade him.

        Now he offers little value in a trade so he better play well for the orginazations sake.

  3. The Original Chuck P

    March 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    It’s a no brainer at this point… many of us have been saying it for a while; you have to give him the keys to the ride and let him adjust to life in the driver’s seat. There are going to be struggles but if you don’t let him go through those growing pains, he’ll never get a chance to build confidence. Giancarlo Stanton had to change his name to get comfortable… maybe Dom’s not that level prospect BUT he’s got the raw talent to be an All-Star and we have yet to see what he can do healthy for a full season. This is the year.

  4. Dave P

    March 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    A good sign today: when the phillies were finished pulling out their regulars from today’s game (Howard, Utley, Young, Revere), Brown was also pulled. I think the phillies also realize that it’s Dom Brown’s time.

  5. Don M

    March 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    As long as Delmon Young is out … Brown is clearly a starter .. if Young comes back and can be do damage against LHP (career .824 OPS) … I wonder what the platoon splits will look like.

    I love Brown getting a shot though, and batting 6-7 there won’t be too much pressure on him either … the plan was for him to eventually become the team’s #3 hitter … the skills are there, he just needs to be consistent, at just 25 years old- he’s still got some time to develop

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  7. George

    March 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Silly to even mention Mitchell and Mather; they’re filler, period.

    That leaves Mayberry, Nix, Ruf, and Inciarte as Brown’s competition. Ruf can be farmed out, and probably will be to work on his fielding. Mayberry probably isn’t going to be dumped because they’ll need a center fielder for the times when Revere needs rest. Inciarte will likely be sent back to his former team or a trade will be engineered so he can be sent to the minors.

    The way I look at it, the Phil’s outfield isn’t nearly as crowded as people make it out to be. I think Brown will be the starting right fielder until Young is ready, then he’ll likely be moved to left. He’d have to be completely atrocious to be beaten out for a position.

    Maybe Brown should be the right fielder, but there’s also nothing particularly wrong with having him in left.

    • Ken Bland

      March 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      “I think Brown will be the starting right fielder until Young is ready, then he’ll likely be moved to left.”

      That apparently is the plan based on a Pat Gillick interview I heard recently. And I had wondered why not leave Brown in right, but Gillick, in discussing Young said that he had made it clear during talks that he doesn’t care for playing left field at all. So havung heard that up front, I’m sure the club has envisioned Brown playing left, if anywhere, since they moved forward on that.

  8. Chuck A.

    March 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    It’s hard to disagree with this. I’ve never been a huge fan of Brown’s and , quite frankly, never thought he would be THE player that a lot thought. I would love to be totally wrong and have to eat my many words.

    • Ryne Duren

      March 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

      hey chuck A. i couldn’t agree more. i feel the same way, never been a big brown fan. but! being a big fan of the phils there’s nothing better than eating my own words if it means browns a winner . i would gladly be a loser in that aspect to have brown shine.

  9. Lefty

    March 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Just so I’m clear on this- Is the PN stand that Dominic Brown should be the starting “RIGHT” fielder and right field only? Or just one of the two corners, and it doesn’t matter which one?

    The Phillies, like it or not, made a financial decision with the “downward trajectory guy” Delmon Young. Not much of risk, but enough of one where I think they will at the very least give him a shot to prove he deserves it or not. The injury doesn’t help matters, but it’s the direction they decided to go, and they knew about the length of recovery from the get-go. So I think they’ll give him a legit chance to earn what he’s been promised.

    Of course that’s an assumption, no one really knows these things unless you are high up in the FO, but if I am correct, then why not just put Dominic in left and be done with it. If Young fails miserably, give him his walkin’ papers, and move Dominic back to right where his great arm can be of benefit first to third.

    It’s good for a Phillies blog to take a stand against the team once in a while, why not? They are big boys, they can take it. I just don’t think your influence will change what they have planned to do. I think the only people that can do that are the players themselves.

    • wbramh

      March 5, 2013 at 2:42 am

      “The Phillies, like it or not, made a financial decision .”
      “The Phillies, like it or not, made a financial decision” (on Young)

      And the Mets made a financial decision to invest with Bernie Madoff.

      Like Chuck, I’ve never been a fan of Dom Brown but he’s clearly the best choice for right. If management can’t see that much than they should trade him for what they think he’s worth and give the kid a chance to make it before he has to hang up his cleats.

      25 may not be old (he’ll turn 26 before the end of the season), but he’s not 22 and an established all star like Mays, Mantle, Ashburn and others.

      If Spring training is not just an expensive stretching exercise, than Brown should be rewarded with the job if he continues to perform at anywhere near his current level.

      (In the meantime, Delmon Young is playing the role of Andrew Bynum)

      If not now – when?

      • Lefty

        March 5, 2013 at 6:34 am

        So then your answer is you only want him in right field, and not left? Because that was my question sir.

      • wbramh

        March 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

        Lefty, I love you, man and I get your point .
        My issue with putting Brown in left field (aside from the fact that his arm and speed are designed for right) is that the team will only put him in left to make room for Delmon Young in right. I’d say it matters less what corner they put Dom in if Junior is in the opposite corner. Even then, I think Dom makes more sense in right, especially if his fielding has improved as much as some suggest..
        I guess my point is, why wait for Delmon Young to be Delmon Young?
        Sure. Put Dom anywhere (make him the first left-handed 3rd baseman for all I care)…
        but put Delmon Young on a bus.

  10. Gman7

    March 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Isn’t Young better suited for LF, and I have to believe that Brown’s arm is better..

    • Roland Schwinn

      March 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Both of the Youngs (as well as Darin Ruf) are better suited for DH.

  11. Mazinman

    March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    At this point I think you have to say that Wally Joyner has been one of the most important hire for the Phillies this offseason. I have heard him credited, in part, in both Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard’s success in Spring Training.

  12. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Let the kid play everyday. I’d take him over Dwlmon Young any day.

  13. Betasigmadeltashag

    March 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I have been very critical of Dom the last few years but he has impressed this spring not only with his bat but with his glove. He seems to be reading balls better and it seems toe that he has changed his catching of fly balls. I know agree that he should be an every day guy and personnely think he should be in right

    • brooks

      March 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      I cant help it. Still have my doubts but he’s here and he’s on fire so let him loose until he plays himself out of the position – like he’s done before.

      • schmenkman

        March 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm

        That’s one way to look at it.

        Here’s another one. Of all the current Phillies, here are the best hitters through age 24 (150+s PAs):

        1. D.Young 100 wRC+ (2464 PAs)
        2. Brown 90 (492)
        3. Rollins 87 (2169)
        4. Utley 86 (152)
        5. Polanco 82 (712)
        6. Revere 78 (1064)
        7. Young 76 (431)
        8. Nix 74 (835)
        9. Galvis 64 (200)

        Delmon’s gone downhill since, then so as long as Brown doesn’t, and instead progresses like most players do, he’s in good shape.

  14. Double Trouble Del

    March 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Even at his age I would endorse my namesake over the reigning ALCS MVP!

  15. Arc

    March 5, 2013 at 1:11 am

    D. Brown is on fire!!! he’s leading the league in runs scored, this looks like our RF going into the season. wait! I forgot, this is only spring training, so we can discard everything we’re seeing so far. Remember; spring training is meaningless! LOL.

    • Lefty

      March 5, 2013 at 6:32 am

      That’s right, it is meaningless. The Royals are 9-0, Seattle is 10-1, the Angels are 1-10, the Reds are 2-10, and the Marlins- I assume you remember them, the fire sale team, are over .500

      Should we go ahead and make the AL all star line up now out of Mariners and Royals players? Should we leave Pujols, Hamilton, and Trout out? No way Jose Bautista and his .077 batting average wiil be any good this season right? In the NL there are no good players on the Reds, they stink right? Votto, Bruce, Choo, Philips- none of them will be any good.

      Dominic Brown is healthy so far, that’s what I’m happy about.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      March 5, 2013 at 7:23 am

      “The early returns are also from an incredibly unstable, small sample size, much like his career numbers that compare surprisingly and are mostly better than the numbers Schmidt and Utley put up at the same points in their early careers.”

      • Ryne Duren

        March 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

        excellant article ian! i agree with your endorsment. i said on an earlier post i would be glad to eat my words downing brown in the past for him to shine going forward. and by the way i don’t see anything wrong with endorsing a player you feel deserves it.

  16. Chuck A.

    March 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Arc – So who then do YOU endorse? Since you seem to be questioning it…..

    • Arc

      March 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

      My point is, if ST is meaningless then Browns performance thus far is nothing to be exited about. Isnt this why PN is endorsing brown? Besides that its obvious he will be the starter, what choice do we have? This whole posting is stupid, and only meant to highlight browns ST performance(which is irrational because it is meaningless). I guess we should not be exited about Howards performance also. And I guess the last two seasons Utley was not at ST we should not have cared, because it doesnt matter.
      Also, in the last 5 seasons, there has been a WS appearance by a club with the best ST record except once. In 2010, both WS teams were in the top 3. In 2012 the 2nd and 3rd best teams. My point is, I wouldnt discount ST performance completely. Although, there has been a WS appearance by the top club in 4 of 5 years, there has also been an appearance by a team that was in the middle of the pack in ST also. My point is, I wouldnt discount ST completely. I think after this post most people who are rational would agree with me. This is the same point I tried to make earlier, but true to the Philly fan ethos; the emotions of some posters took over and attacked this same point without thinking things through.
      As for Leftys comment; people on here like to use statistical terminology, and i really dont think they have even passed an “Intro to Stat” class in their life. But, Lefty, if you did, im sure your familiar with the concept of “faulty comparison”. Trying to compare Bautistas ST performance with Browns is not possible. Brown is an unknown fighting for his career future; Bautista can go up to the plate and at the same time file his taxes; his spot is gauranteed.
      Again, my point is you cannot completely discount ST performance.
      Now from now on, be nice to me.

      • Chuck A.

        March 5, 2013 at 11:12 am

        It’s hard for us to be “nice” to you when you’re constantly in attack mode. I know the name of a few …. shall we say “professionals”… should you need help dealing with your anger problem.

        Also….stop it with the ST records in relation to WS appearances. They really don’t matter and you know it. And … for the record …. The Phils were 12-18 and 13-19 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. That’s TWICE in the last 5 years that a team with a losing ST record was in the Series.

    • Arc

      March 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

      So, to hell with Brown, we have no choice in RF. The real issue is do we start Frandsen over Young at 3rd? Batting .364 over Youngs .261.

  17. The Original Chuck P

    March 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The reality is that we shouldn’t get too excited about Dom… however, him being healthy and sort of dialed in (mainly healthy) is not a bad thing. Spring is about excitement – you have to grab onto what you can. Have guys carried great spring training numbers into the regular season? Absolutely. Have guys flopped despite great ST numbers? Sure. Health, rational confidence and a clear plan for the future are what we’re looking for out of spring. On average, this spring has provided better results in those three faces than prior years. Utley’s actually playing. Dom is playing well. Howard is playing (well, which is a bonus). The starting pitching has been pretty good (Cole Hamels looks other-worldly). Health doesn’t seem to be an issue anywhere except with Delmon Young and maybe Mike Adams (who appears to be doing well). Overall, I think we have reasons to be excited… cautiously optimistic. Maybe Dom doesn’t pan out but maybe he does… at least we are pretty sure that he’s going to get a shot to play every day without looking over his shoulder. Make or break…

  18. Ken Bland

    March 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    If Brown has Dominican blodd, I endorse the endorsement.

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