Is Domonic Brown Breaking out of His Funk?
Domonic Brown has had a pretty awful 2014 season.
So far this year, Brown is hitting .218/.268/.322 with a wOBA of .258. That's dead last - 64th out of 64 - qualifying outfielders in Major League Baseball. He has four home runs, an ISO of .104, an fWAR of -0.9 and his nERD is -1.90, meaning a lineup full of Dom Browns would generate 1.9 runs less per game than a lineup full of 27 average Major Leaguers.
This one's tough to read: in 72 plate appearances this year, Bobby Abreu has eight extra-base hits. Brown has 13 in 228 plate appearances.
That's a lot of different ways to say he's been very bad. It's also a far cry from last year's numbers (.272/.324/.494, wOBA .351, 27 HRs, nERD 1.27), which netted him his first All-Star Game appearance.
But one could argue that, outside of one ridiculously hot month of May last year, Brown has been an average-to-mediocre player for his entire career.
|Before May 2013||589||15||.235||.314||.385||.305|
|During May 2013||109||12||.303||.303||.688||.423|
|After May 2013||562||16||.250||.308||.402||.309|
That seems to be what Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa was referring to when he made some tough comments regarding Brown last week: “He comes to the park upbeat every day. I don’t know how he does that because if it was me I’d be going crazy," Bowa said of Brown. "The big thing to be concerned about, there was a five-week period- or-six last year and if you take that away, [Brown's] numbers aren’t very good. He's not playing the way he's capable of playing."
It's fair to wonder if the struggling Domonic Brown is the "real" Domonic Brown. Believe me, many Phillies fans are wondering that very thing. And at least one of their coaches is pondering the idea.
However, there are signs Brown may slowly be breaking out of his season-long slump. He's a hit in 9 out of his last 10 games, and in 28 June plate appearances, Brown is hitting .333/.321/.407 with a wOBA of .314. Oddly enough, he hasn't drawn a walk during this time, although he also went the entire, insane month of May last year without drawing a walk too, which still seems like an impossible thing to do. And, of course, this is a very small sample size, so these numbers should be viewed within that context.
Brown has had solid streaks other than May of 2013. Heading into the trade deadline back in 2011, as the Phillies were foolishly in pursuit of Hunter Pence, Brown slashed .296/.398/.366 in July. While he didn't hit any homers that month, his plate discipline and development were coming along. That was until Pence forced him down to Triple-A.
Until the last week, Brown hadn't put together any kind of streak this season, which would give one reason to hope he would pull out of his tailspin. Now, finally, there is the faintest of heartbeats.
And while it's too late to make a difference in the Phils' lost 2014 season, a good final few months would at least put Brown and Phillies management in a positive mind frame for 2015.
Or, it could make him valuable trade bait at the deadline.