Analysis

Is Joyner’s Departure the Reason for Brown’s Struggles?

Untouchable. Websters dictionary defines the word untouchable as “forbidden to the touch”, but in baseball the word untouchable has another meaning. If a player is deemed untouchable by an organization it is a sign to the fan base that this particular player is destined for greatness. So when Domonic Brown was deemed as such by the Phillies in 2009, Phillies fans took notice. The kid was so good that the Phillies refused to part with him for the best pitcher in baseball at the time, Roy Halladay.

Fast forward three years later and it was a different story. Domonic Brown was not Giancarlo Stanton, who the Marlins deemed untouchable during the 2009 season. Unfortunately, it looked more and more like Brown would take the path of another former prospect who was deemed untouchable, Gavin Floyd.

After making his major league debut in 2010 Brown had struggled. Not just at the plate, but in the field as well. In his first three seasons the former top prospect had posted a slash line of .230/.302/.381. A player who the Phillies said they wouldn’t part with in a Roy Halladay deal, was very much available but no team seemed to want him. It looked as though Dom Brown was one of the many highly touted prospects who would fizzle out and be labeled as a bust. But then something happened. It all clicked.

Phillies fans had cautious optimism for Brown after he crushed the ball in spring training. That optimism carried over to the regular season as Brown finally put it all together and looked like the untouchable player the Phillies thought they had back in 2009. In a season that was pretty forgettable in many ways, Brown was the lone bright spot.

Brown smashed 27 homeruns while driving in 83 RBI for the Phillies in 2013. He posted a respectable slash line of .272/.324/494 and was voted into his first All Star Game. Life was good. Still a work in progress in the field, he possessed a rocket arm that had fans rushing to twitter so they could hashtag “HoseAlert” anytime he gunned down a runner. There was no question that Domonic Brown had finally arrived. But then it happened….. and then it didn’t…… but then it did. Domonic Brown was Daniel San and he was about to lose his Mr. Miyagi.

Wally Joyner had joined the Phillies in October of 2012 as the assistant hitting coach. Come spring training he had found a protégé in Brown. “It seems like God has sent an angel down here toward me” Brown said of Joyner during spring training. Joyner had watched video of Brown’s long loopy swing and knew how to fix it. In the 1994 movie “Angels in the Outfield” Angels helped baseball players play greater than they really were. But then they left. Wally Joyner, a man once referred to as an “angel” by Domonic Brown left, but he didn’t have too.

After Charlie Manuel was fired in September of 2013 Joyner became the first base coach. At the end of the season Joyner wanted more, and he went looking for a position as a full time hitting coach. Two weeks later the Phillies announced he had reversed his decision and would return to the Phillies reprising his role as assistant hitting coach. One person that was breathing a sigh of relief was Domonic Brown. But that lasted a month. In the middle of November Joyner decided to once again leave the Phillies, this time for Detroit as the Tigers new hitting coach. My first reaction was “not again”.

Most fans don’t get upset when assistant coaches leave. After all, how much do they REALLY do? But to me, letting Wally Joyner go was like when the Phillies let Davey Lopes leave after the 2010 season. The team was undervaluing the impact that some bench coaches have on the team. Amaro let Lopes go and it effected the teams stolen base numbers the next season. The Phillies went from ranking 10th in stolen bases in 2010 to 19th in 2011. I was concerned that in allowing Wally Joyner to leave for Detroit we would see the old Brown. It appears my fear has been realized.

Domonic Brown might be the worst every day player in the majors this season. The Phillies left fielder ranks as one of the worst offensive every day players in the game, and his defense is atrocious at one of the easier spots in the field. Only the Tampa Bay Rays Jose Molina has a worse WAR (-1.5) than Brown’s -1.4. He has the sixth worst OPS in the majors (.598), and his robust .218 batting average ranks him the second worst left fielder in that category.

As I watch the former top prospect do a complete 360 with his career I have to wonder if this was avoidable. If Wally Joyner was still here would Brown be struggling as badly as he is? Was letting Wally Joyner go to Detroit, and not making sure he stay in Philadelphia the worst move Ruben Amaro made this offseason? Its hard to ignore the numbers in Domonic Brown’s career. In 2010, 2011, 2012, and this season Brown has struggled big time. But in 2013 he was able to put it all together. And the one big difference was Joyner.

Ruben Amaro has made some awful moves during his tenure as GM of the Phillies. Some major (Cliff Lee trade) and some minor (Brandon Moss). Letting Wally Joyner go is in the latter category, but to the struggling former All Star I’m sure it is huge. With every strikeout, with every fly ball, with every ground out there is a solution, but that solution is sitting in Detroit. The Tigers currently have the second best team batting average in the majors. Domonic Brown currently has one of the worst.

 

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. nahroots

    June 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Please. He stinks. Simple as that. Stop making excuses for him.

    • schmenkman

      June 26, 2014 at 11:19 am

      To me, the question is: why is he doing much worse this season than he ever has in the past (even if you exclude his May-June streak of last year)?

      A) May 1-June 9, 2013 (146 PA) …..… .324/.342/.732 (1.075 OPS)
      B) Rest of career thru 2013 (886 PA)…. .243/.316/.393 (.709 OPS)
      C) 2014 (292 PA) ……………………….. .217/.271/.322 (.593 OPS)

      • nahroots

        June 26, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Agreed. I don’t understand the dramatic drop off. And it’s not like he went from above average to just average. He’s way below average and it’s absolutely killing the lineup. He will never be a plus fielder, which makes it all the more painful to watch.

        I understand pitchers have made an adjustment to stay away from his pull power. But is he really incapable of making some sort of counter adjustment? We’re damn near half way through the season and he has showed zero signs of turning it around.

        It’s just such a disappointment.

  2. PaMikeyDC

    June 26, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Good points.

    But- Brandon Moss was a AAA figure. He wasn’t that good was he? And besides, like so many others, he was blocked by RH

  3. George

    June 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    If Joyner actually fixed Brown’s swing, why didn’t it stay fixed? And why did that fixing start to fade away last year while Joyner was still around for reinforcement?

    I’m not claiming that Joyner isn’t a fine coach; there have been other players who’ve praised him. What I am saying is that coaching can only go so far, and the rest is a matter of talent. I’ll also defend Amaro in this case: you don’t outbid another team to keep a coach just because one player seems to need him. The rest of the team didn’t seem to do any better at the plate with an assistant hitting coach around.

    My own feeling is that Dom Brown is pretty much what he’s always been: a 243/.316/.393 (.709 OPS) hitter. His amazing May last season was a fluke, and this season so far is a fluke, too. I expect some improvement: back up nearer to that .706 OPS mark.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      June 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      A lot of players benefitted from Davey Lopes, and Amaro reportedly let him go over a difference $60,000. Meanwhile, he’s paying Howard over $150,000 per game. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      • schmenkman

        June 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

        They may have benefitted some, but how much is debatable. It seems to me that Lopes’ reputation benefitted from the good, young, Phillies baserunners, at least as much as they benefitted from him.

        The Phillies continued leading the NL in SB success until finally falling to middle of the pack last year, and Lopes’ teams haven’t been anything special on the bases since he left.

  4. Lefty

    June 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    My question is – What makes you believe that Amaro could gave stopped Joyner- (or any other coach) from leaving? I have worked with many folks that have sought to better their earnings and or family life by moving around the country. There was nothing their former employer could have done to stop them if they were dis-satisfied in their current position.

    • schmenkman

      June 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Agree. He wanted a job as the primary hitting coach, and there wasn’t an opening here. And even if he could have had that job, the Tigers looked like the more promising team for this year.

  5. DaveP

    June 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    According to fangraphs, Dom Brown is:
    – Worst WAR with -1.1
    – 5th worst wRC+ at 59 (41% WORSE than league average)
    – 5th worst wOBA at .259 (Basically a more advanced way of evaluating a hitter – each hitting event is correlated with their run value. Average is .320~, awful is .290~.)

    His isn’t any better-
    – 28th worst out of 164 defensively by DRS
    – 16th worst out of 61 outfielders by UZR

    Right now Brown isn’t offering anything positive. And if you look at the heatmaps on fangraphs, he is being pitched nearly the exact same way he was last year (at least location-wise). Somehow he just isn’t punishing the ball in the zone the way he did last year. (or last may, really).

  6. Philoser

    June 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    whats Joyner got to do with his inability to play the outfield…..stop making excuses for the bum…..he stinks….he’s minor league player at best….trade him (who would want him) or demote him!!!!

    • Chuck A.

      June 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      I’ll pretty much agree with everything you said except that he’s probably not a “bum”.

  7. DaveWeaver

    June 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but Wally Joyner was still here the second half of last season?

    He was still Dom Brown’s ‘angel’ when Brown hit 4 HRs in the second half compared to 23 in the first half?

    And Joyner was still here as Brown’s ‘angel’ as Brown’s average AND slugging percentage dropped each and every month as the season progressed from May to October, except for a blip of a rebound in average alone for August?

    Brown has proven time and again he cannot play. The only reason he has a job is the cupboard is absolutely bare. Sooner or later, that will change, and he be sent packing.

    • schmenkman

      June 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      There are the ups and downs of a season (like Brown last year after his streak), and then there is the slump Brown has been in this year.

      Last year, from June 9th on: .255/.317/.402 (.719 OPS)
      This year …………………….: .217/.271/.322 (.593 OPS)

      If he only has that .719 OPS, it’s not enough for a LF, but if he can sprinkle in the occasional hot streak, he won’t be a star but he’ll be a useful player.

      This year’s slump is way off from last year’s second half and something completely different.

  8. Stefano 61

    June 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Why he’s hitting well over .300 with runners in scoring positions, with an OPS over.900 ? Thanks to that he’s on pace to have the same RBI total of the Last season.

  9. Rja

    June 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Phillies fans. Gods feces

  10. kjeeee

    June 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Dude, don’t pin Davey Lopes leaving the Phils on Amaro.

    I don’t think anything or anyone could have stopped Davey Lopes from returning to the LA Dodgers when a spot opened up.

    It’s only natural that assistants want to move up the chain of command.
    Unless the Phils fire their hitting coach and hire Joyner, Joyner remains as an assistant. Joyner did what was best for him. Lopes did it.

    • kjeeee

      June 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      When assistant do their job really well… it gets noticed by everyone, which is a very good thing for the individual but not so good for the organization. Unless they get promoted, they will find opportunities. No need to blame Amaro for what is common in any professional sports.
      Both Joyner and Lopes did their jobs well and they’ve both moved on.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      June 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      “I feel this is a different situation than most situations,” Lopes said by phone. “I’m not saying the money they offered was not good. Everybody will say, ‘It’s a money thing. It’s a money thing.’ That played into it. But there’s a certain time in your career where you’re pigeon-holed and I don’t feel as though I should be. It should be based on your value to the club. It has nothing to do with if I’m a first-base coach or third-base coach. What is my value to the club?”

      Lopes declined to say how far apart the club and he were on a salary. He said he was not looking for pitching or hitting coach money.

      http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/Lopes_will_not_return_to_Phillies.html

  11. Michael

    June 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    “As I watch the former top prospect do a complete 360 with his career I have to wonder if this was avoidable”. – Hey, Genius – I think you mean “180 degrees.” Here’s a suggestion: If you want to be a writer, learn how to write.

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