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.
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.