Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, September 18, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 31
Domonic Brown entered the season with the promise of regular playing time and promptly delivered all-star caliber production. He hit a robust .290/.326/.613, with 18 homers, during May and June and had a .274/.321/.545 batting line at the end of that stretch. He was finally delivering on his potential and showing why he was untouchable in past deals.
He took major strides forward offensively this season and could have approached 35 home runs if not for a couple nagging injuries. He sacrificed some patience for power, walking just 6.4% of the time, compared to 11.9% in 2011 and 9.9% last season. However, that trade-off was very much necessary, as injuries depleted the Phillies lineup and left him the only serious power threat for much of the year.
Despite his offensive improvement, Brown has only produced 1.7 WAR this year. He has never rated positively in the field and his -7 fielding mark eats away at his bat’s value. Switching positions and lacking consistent playing time in the majors from 2010-12 plays a role, but it’s hard to attribute all of his fielding woes to those circumstances.
He figures to play 140 games this season at 2 WAR. That equates to league average performance over almost a full season, which has value, especially considering his meager salary. He’ll be 27 years old next year, which is the point that players typically begin their peak, so he’s no longer a young prospect finding his way. Aside from that torrid stretch in May and June, he has hit similarly to his batting lines in 2011-12. That isn’t bad, in and of itself, but it invites the question of Brown’s true talent level.
As the Phillies look to retool their roster, it’s interesting to wonder whether Brown might benefit them more as a trade chip than as a building block. He is young and cheap enough to attract suitors and is major league ready. Retooling teams don’t often trade talented and cost-controlled assets, but in Brown’s case it’s worth asking whether the team would be selling high by pursuing a trade this offseason. If the answer is yes, should the Phillies consider unloading Brown while the iron is hot?