One year later: Do we know if Domonic Brown's good or not yet?

One year later: Do we know if Domonic Brown's good or not yet?

One year ago today, in the midst of what was then a very confusing season for the 25-year-old outfielder, I asked the fateful question: "Is Domonic Brown Having a Good Year or Not?"

Most of the article's commenters seemed to think that he was, at least for a young player in his first season as a full-timer, and Dom would go on to validate those believers by hitting 11 homers in his next 16 games, one of the hottest hitting tears in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. He won Player of the Month in the NL for May, made the All-Star team in July, and held the NL's home run crown for a short while, looking for all the world like he was becoming the star for the Phillies he had once been projected as.

But Domonic's post-All-Star break numbers were but a pale shadow of his first few months, as he hit his 27th homer of the season on August 14th and failed to go yard again a single time after that. In fact he had just three extra-base hits of any kind in his final 31 games of the season, a worrisome power outage that saw his slugging percentage drop over 40 points. Some wondered if maybe playing a full season for the first time was taking its toll on Dom, if maybe he had just hit the rookie wall a couple years late.

But now we're over a quarter way through the 2014 season, and the power is still out with Domonic Brown. Through 44 games, he has a total of ten extra-base hits, good for a slugging percentage of .317--second-lowest among the team's regulars, behind Ben Revere's historically (and predictably) anemic .294. Going back to last season, he now has just 25 extra-base hits in his last 100 games. (For contrast, Chase Utley has 25 XBHs in just 41 games so far this season.)

This would maybe be forgivable if Dom was contributing in other facets of the game, but power hitting is really just about all he has to recommend him as a player. He doesn't hit for average (a team-low .211 BA), he doesn't walk a ton (12 BBs so far, tied for fifth on the team), and he's lead-footed in left field. He rates as a negative on both sides of the ball, and his -0.7 WAR total on Baseball-Reference feels generous, if anything.

What's going on with Dom at the plate? Well, a Philly.com article from late April suggests that pitchers caught up to his weaknesses a little bit, pitching more low-and-away, occasionally on the inside, and rarely down the heart of the plate, where he did the majority of his damage during his hot streak last season. Dom also believes that he's streaky by nature, and GM Ruben Amaro suggests that he's been a little unlucky with some of his outs, as might be suggested by his rather low batting average on balls in play (.240).

But bad luck and needing to make adjustments only works as an excuse for so long. With over half a season's worth of evidence of slumping between the end of last year and the beginning of this year, it's pretty hard not to wonder if maybe this current rough stretch isn't the fluke for Dom, but rather the one month or so that he was super-hot last season. With Philly.com now writing that maybe it's time to send Domonic back to Triple A, maybe the Domonic Brown Actually Being Good dream is already close to over.

The really crazy thing about Dom's struggles this year, though? Philly's hitting, not predicted to be hugely productive even with a competent DomBro, has been decent regardless. The team is only 12th of 15 NL teams in runs, but they rank 5th in total OPS, with every Phils regular besides Dom and Ben Revere posting an OPS+ of over 100. With Brown producing at non-black-hole-type levels, this actually might be a half-good offensive ballclub. And maybe Domonic's turning it around a little: He's hit two homers (his second and third of the year) in the last week, though he's still gone just 4-21 total over that span.

Or maybe it's just like my Dad suggested to me one year ago: Domonic Brown is really just the Phillies' Evan Turner. As long as we have him, there'll be good stretches when he's scoring in bunches and looks like an All-Star and you think he's finally turned the corner and will be this way forever, then it'll disappear without warning and the shots will stop falling and he'll barely even look like a replacement player until one day he turns it around again. It's livable, as long as you don't let yourself get suckered in by the good times too much, too often.

The question of whether Domonic Brown is having a good year or not is a pointless one this season: He's not, and in fact he's probably been one of the worst regular players in all of MLB. But as for whether or not he's good at all...I'm not 100% ready to rule definitively on that one just yet. In baseball, you're never more than one white-hot 16-game stretch away from being good again, so here's hoping one of those comes sooner rather than later for Dom. This weekend against the Dodgers wouldn't be a terrible time to start.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.