Domonic Brown still flying under national radar

Domonic Brown still flying under national radar

June 14, 2013, 10:15 am
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A few weeks ago, when Domonic Brown was using his bat to club the month of May into submission, Charlie Manuel did what everyone else around here did: He marveled at the performance.

“He’s getting to play every day and he’s showing why he had a good spring,” Manuel said at the time. “He’s getting used to playing in the big leagues, and he’s learning more about it each day. It goes back to that consistency. He’s starting to get consistent in his hitting, and he can even get better. I’d like to leave him alone and let him play. I don’t want him to get caught up in all the hoopla and people patting him on the back and telling him how good he is. I want him to show me how good he is.”

He has shown Manuel how good he is. Manuel has noticed. You have noticed. You know who hasn’t noticed? The people who vote for the All-Star game.

If Manuel is worried about people patting Brown on the back and telling the outfielder how good he is, then the manager should request that the Phillies play all of their games on the road. Because while we haven’t stopped talking about Brown around here, it seems like people who aren’t around here haven’t started talking about Brown yet.

How else do you explain the curious returns for National League outfield candidates? The most recent results were released earlier this week. Chase Utley -- who remains on the mend and hasn’t played in a while -- was the only Phillie in the top-5 at his position. That isn’t surprising considering All-Star voting is less a meritocracy than a name-recognition contest.

But forget about being in the top 5. Brown wasn’t even among the top 10 vote getters. He wasn’t among the top 15 either. It’s one thing for out-of-town fans to be somewhat unfamiliar with Brown’s name. After all, it wasn’t long ago when Brown was so unproven that he begged for a “sink-or-swim opportunity,” something like four or five hundred major-league at-bats to show “what I’m capable of.”

So, yeah, maybe the name recognition isn’t there. But the stats certainly are. Maybe people can ignore the letters on the back of his jersey, but how can they ignore the numbers?

Of the National League outfielders that are among the top 15 vote getters, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen have better batting averages than Brown. But only Gonzalez and Gomez have better slugging percentages. Only Gonzalez has more RBIs. And no one has more home runs.

And yet Brown is the forgotten man. He regularly appears in the national TV highlights, but given how few people have voted for him, Brown might as well replace the number nine on his jersey with a question mark.

Even B.J. Upton -- the lesser of the Upton brothers, a guy who probably gets teased at Upton family functions for not being Justin -- has gotten more votes than Brown. And B.J. Upton was so bad for so long this season that there was talk about the Braves sending him to the minors to work on his swing (or maybe just to get him out of sight for a while so everyone in Atlanta could rub their sore eyes).

Brown will likely be an All-Star this year. But he won’t be a starter. He won’t even come close. Which brings us to another, related matter: Why not?

The out-of-town fans, along with the curious system baseball has in place, are partly to blame for stuffing the ballot box. But where are the local fans to (over)react in kind? Why haven’t Phillies backers risen up to address what would normally be seen as a slight against the team and the town?

A year ago, you couldn’t go online or attend a game without someone imploring you to vote for Carlos Ruiz. Or, in Ryan Howard’s now-famous mangled Twitter parlance, Cot for Choice. Where’s the Brown equivalent? Where’s the auto-corrected but well-meaning digital plea to vote for the outfielder with the big bat? More to the point: Where have you been, and won’t you, um, Cot for Doom? Or something?

It’s time to get creative with the process. Like the Mets did. Well, OK, maybe not like the Mets.

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