Where Does Dom Brown Go From Here?

Where Does Dom Brown Go From Here?

Fans cheer as left fielder Domonic Brown (9) rounds the bases after hitting a home run Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Is the secret out on Domonic Brown yet? You would think so since he was named Player of the Week and moved into a second-place tie with 13 home runs in the National League, yet his fireworks display in the Phillies’ 4-3 win against the Red Sox on Wednesday still could have gone overlooked around baseball.

Dom’s bombs give him five in the Fightins’ last five games, a feat that might get a 25-years-old-in-a-big-market ballplayer’s picture somewhere on ESPN.com. Cracking the top stories can be tough though, especially on a night where Baltimore’s Chris Davis hits his Major League-leading 18th and 19th dingers of the year, two more players bash three, Jered Weaver returns from the disabled list for Anaheim, and the Subway Series is going on in the Big Apple.

Rest assured, the Sox know what Brown is all about. That’s why it will be interesting to see if they change their approach to the lefthander at all in the final game of the series, because how Dom rolls with the punches has become the story from here on out.

[watch Brown bash four homers against the Red Sox]

Philadelphia Phillies' Domonic Brown, right, celebrates with Erik Kratz after Brown's home run off Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara in the eighth inning (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

As Brown draws an increasing amount of attention, opposing pitchers will begin to treat him with more respect. As he moves up in the lineup, there will be increasing pressure to produce. Ultimately Brown has to prove he can continue to adjust and grow over the course of a full season, not just knock the cover off of the ball for about a month.

Who knows whether May of 2013 will mark the beginning of his meteoric rise to All-Star leftfielder, or if all of this is just one hell of a tear. While Brown’s future is certainly looking up, it’s going to take a long time for his career trajectory to bear out. We can however make some educated guesses about where he might be heading in the short-term.

On-base percentage should rise

By far one of the most amazing aspects of Brown’s breakout month is the fact that he hasn’t drawn a single walk yet, and there are only two games left to go. Anybody else would (rightly) be getting killed for this, but when that slugging percentage is at .644, people tend to overlook some stuff.

The way he’s swinging the bat, the “problem” is likely to correct itself anyway. If Brown continues to be this great of a threat, hurlers will be careful not to serve “his” pitch. Opposing managers will give the sign to pitch around him or potentially give him the intentional pass in certain situations.

Brown will eventually have to rein in the free-swinging assault that’s putting him in the map to some degree before he can take the next step in his development, but by then he may have instilled enough fear in the opposite dugout so that he can afford to be more patient at the plate. His .298 OBP should only rise as a result.

Could fall off 40-HR pace

All of a sudden Brown is on pace to hit 40 home runs this season, which is absurd. Only six players eclipsed the 40 mark in 2012, the highest number for a single season since 2006. Needless to say, it would be quite an achievement.

This is one of those areas where we may want to keep expectations in check. Somewhere in the 30s is probably reasonable, but keep in mind he was sitting on eight less than a week ago. No matter how good he is, Brown isn’t going to keep on mashing bombs every night. His pace becoming slightly more modest will also be a natural byproduct of opposing pitchers bringing a more cautious approach to their encounters. If/when he starts picking up more freebies, that’s fewer opportunities to crush balls over the fence.

Perhaps he is just warming up, and a 40-home run guy is what Dom was meant to become all along, but there is a long way to go before that milestone comes into full view.

Remain at No. 6… for now

There has been a lot of discussion about moving Brown up to third in the everyday batting order, and Charlie Manuel probably needs to at least consider out of necessity anything that might help the Phillies’ 27th-ranked offense.

Stop! No! Don’t do it!

Right now you don’t want Dom Brown thinking about anything other than what he’s been doing already. Whatever his mindset is right now, it’s working. Don’t make a single change that might mess with the hot streak he’s riding.

Besides, we’re still in an evaluation period of sorts for Brown. How is he going to react when a slump does come along? Will he be able to demonstrate patience as pitchers adjust their strategy towards him? Is he ready for the added pressure of hitting toward the top of the order on a daily basis?

If he keeps this up, Dom is going to be up in that three-hole before long. It’s only been a month of very good baseball though, and once the secret is out, there are going to be new challenges for him to overcome. What we’ve been watching from Brown over the past few weeks is encouraging to say the least, but let's wait and see if he can sustain it.

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s as if the season began right where it left off for the handful of Flyers players that participated in the World Cup of Hockey. 

Five months removed from their first round series with Washington, the group that played in the international tournament says it was nearly identical to the tempo they saw in the NHL playoffs.

“Our division was really tight so right from the get-go you couldn’t afford to lose a game,” said Sean Couturier, who suited up for North America. “It definitely felt like playoffs, and it definitely didn’t feel like September.”

Couturier was joined by his World Cup teammate Shayne Gostisbehere, along with Team Czech Republic’s Jake Voracek and Michael Neuvirth, in their return to Voorhees for their first practice with the Flyers on Monday. Team Canada’s Claude Giroux and the Team Europe duo of Mark Streit and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will be competing in the finals this week.

While it may have been an early exit for the first wave of Flyers who reported back, the experience of playing in a tournament with that high of intensity has left them more confident than they’ve ever felt at this time of the year, particularly for Gostisbehere. 

The Calder Trophy runner-up underwent offseason hip surgery following his 46-point season. Having missed a season two years ago because of a torn ACL, Gostisbehere is thankful for how much the World Cup prepared him for his second year. He says he feels better now than he ever has in his career after picking up four assists in the tournament.

“You don’t play in those games in September normally so it was pretty cool to do,” Gostisbehere said. “I think the tournament was a good stepping stone for me and to branch off my injury and give yourself the confidence that you’re feeling good for the year.”

Like Couturier and Gostisbehere, Voracek said the World Cup gameplay mirrored that of the NHL postseason. 

“When I look at the season for the Flyers, it was the best thing that could have happened for me,” Voracek said. “The World Cup was high level… I’m six games in before training camp even starts.”

After what he calls a “good offseason” of training, Voracek saw this opportunity as almost a saving grace – a chance to regain form before embarking on his sixth season in Philadelphia. The winger had one goal and one assist in three games that “felt like I was playing in the playoffs.”

Had this tournament occurred in 2015, the mindset coming back may have been different. Dave Hakstol was coaching his first professional season and as evidenced by their record to start the year and the comments made throughout, things took a little longer than expected when it came to picking up the new coach’s system.

That process is behind the Flyers, and it makes missing the first weekend of camp and possibly the first week of preseason games an easier obstacle to overcome.

“It’s always better when you know the system and what Hak wants in you,” Voracek said. “It’s obviously going to get better and better.”

The best-of-three World Cup finals will begin on Tuesday with the third game (if needed) commencing on Saturday. If the teams go the full distance, the remaining three Flyers involved would likely not play their first preseason game until October 6 if not October 8, the final exhibition game. 

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz's 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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