It’s certainly tough to look at Domonic Brown‘s season as a whole and make any kind of universal judgement about how he did. At times he was the most prolific home run hitter in the National League, and at other times he looked lost. Of course, some of his lack of production later on was the result of a concussion and having to miss time, but it nonetheless led to one of the most lopsided seasons in recent memory.
During the early part of the season, it looked as if Brown was to continue on the trajectory that he had been on the previous few years. His average was down, and his power way down. After a month of play, he had recorded a slash line of just .233/.309/.372-dismal by any standard. His power was non-existent. He clubbed three home runs and had only three doubles. Those were the only three extra base hits of the month for him.
When the calendar turned, it was like a switch went off.
Six games into May, Brown had already doubled his home run total from the first 30 days of the season, and the long balls kept coming. Twelve of them in the month alone, and 25 RBI and a .303 average (along with 0 walks, figure that one out). One other player in baseball (Miguel Cabrera) had 12 home runs in the month of May, and only two others besides him (Justin Upton and Chris Davis) has 12 in any calendar month the entire season. No other National leaguer had as many RBI as Brown in the month either.
He topped it of with eight homers and 16 RBI in the final 11 games of the month alone, bringing him back to back N.L. Player of the Week honors, and eventually an N.L. Player of the Month award. A slugger had finally emerged.
He kept his torrid pace into June, assaulting opposing pitching with four round trippers and 11 RBI in the first eight days of the month. By then, he was consistently hovering around the league lead in home runs, and was almost a shoo-in for the All-Star team. He toiled a little bit to finish the month, but still recorded six homers and drove in over 20 for what would be his second extremely productive month in a row.
Then just like that, it disappeared. Brown was selected to play in the All-Star game for the N.L., but by then his numbers had taken a major hit. After hitting just .257 with three homers through the first three weeks of the month, Brown caught the injury plague that has plagued the Phillies for several seasons now. In a game against St. Louis in July 23, Brown dove for a ball in the outfield and slammed his head against the ground. The result was a concussion, which put him on the seven day minimum concussion DL the next day. He stayed there for two weeks, and when he returned he was not the same.
His home run on Aug. 14 against Atlanta would be his last of the season. After that, 91 at bats and not one resulted in a homer. He finished the season with a .272 average, 27 home runs and 83 RBI. At the All-Star Break, he had been at .273, 23 and 67. Just four home runs and 16 RBI in the second half.
Whether the extreme drop in production stemmed from not being 100 percent is unclear. It certainly had some effect, whether directly physical or just by throwing him off by not playing for two weeks. Either way, it was one of the most disappointing finished from a young player in his breakout year, when he was expected to easily eclipse 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and probably be closer to 40/110.
2013 Grade: B
It’s tough to give Brown top marks after his dramatic decline in the second half, whether it was caused from the injury or not. No player who, for an entire half of a season puts up a 162 game average of less than 10 home runs and 40 RBI deserves an A. That being said, Brown was just about the hottest hitter in baseball for a month and some change, and carried the Phillies for the first half. He was clutch, and he was doing everything right. He still finished with extremely respectable numbers, which were by far best on the team, despite basically doing nothing for three months to end the season. There is some merit in that. And his concussion was a fluke injury. How many times do you see a guy dive and not slam his head hard enough to be concussed? All he is guilty of there is giving his all.
Some may think it’s a generous grade, some may think it’s a harsh grade, but Brown is deserving and a “B” constitutes above average work. For a budding young slugger like him, there will plenty of more chances for him to top it.