By now we all know that after last nights two home run performance (his third game in a row with a home run), Domonic Brown trails only Justin Upton for the National league lead. Most of us are also aware that while he has clubbed 11 home runs since May first, he has also failed to walk in 99 plate appearances. For many smart fans, the power surge has been bittersweet because of the walks, and some worry that this may be a bad sign.
I'm here to disagree.
The common arguement that many folks are making is that management has "ordered Dom to be more aggressive and that they don't want him to draw walks. The natural assumption then, would be to believe that Dom is swinging at more bad pitches, because, if he's not drawing walks, he must be swinging at balls, right?
Well the best way to figure that out is to look at The Spray Charts (h/t to topherstarr here)
When I open that link I don't see a bunch of pitches outside the zone being swung at.
Compare that to Ryan Howard for a minute.
Here are Domonic Browns Splits on the season.
Consider that in March/April, in 97 plate appearances he struck out 17 times.That number was 18 in 101 in May.If he was striking out more, then THAT would be a major red flag. He's not. What he IS doing is being much more aggressive early in counts, hitting a TON more fly balls. And while a 37% HR/FB ratio is fairly unsustainable, What that says to me is that he's literally pouncing on every fastball he likes and trying to hit home runs.
Dom Brown is turning into a power hitter.
And it's glorious to behold. And you should enjoy it.
I've said this in a few other places but it bears repeating.
In Domonic Browns first 650 major league plate appearances he hit exactly TWO FIRST PITCH HOME RUNS. He's done that 3 times since May 18th.
Now, the general argument that people have made here is that the home runs are a result of pitchers throwing him fastballs early and Dom taking advantage of that now, but eventually they'll stop throwing him strikes and then what?
Uh... Then HE TAKES THE PITCH AND GETS AHEAD IN THE COUNT.
Which is exactly what he did last night.
If you look at the first HR from last night, it went like this:
pitch one: Four seam fastball out of the zone: BALL ONE
pitch two: Cutter out of the zone: BALL TWO
Pitch three: Cutter: CALLED STRIKE
pitch four: Four seam fastball: HOME RUN
So whats the REAL difference here? Why is he hitting so many home runs? Well, in a nutshell, hes finally taking advantage of hitters counts.
Here's a link to his career splits when ahead, and behind in the count.
Here's a link to that data for 2013
On his career, when Dom Brown is ahead in the count, he's 57-190 with 11 HRs, 60 BB and 26 Ks. (300/466/537)
When he's BEHIND? 40-208 with 5 HRS 0 BB and 68 K's (192/196/332)
Now those statistics include this season, but to look at those splits for 2013? (which includes April)
AHEAD: he's 24-60 with 7 HR's, 9 BB and 5Ks. (400/486/833)
so 13% of the time he's drawing a walk, and 34% of the time he's getting a hit.
BEHIND: he's 10-64 with 1 HR, 0 BB and 21Ks. (156/156/234)
now take out 2013.
prior to this season, he was 33-130 with 4 HRs 51 BBs and 21Ks when ahead in the count.So 28% of the time he drew a walk and 18% of the time he got a hit. That's good for a .253 BA and a .464 OBP
So before this year, Dom Brown was really good at taking pitches, and getting ahead in the count, but he wasn't SWINGING AT ENOUGH STRIKES.
All his walks came from being ahead. Basically, you had a player who was too tenuous at the plate to do any damage. His OBP on the year, ahead in the count is higher than his career average and he's batting .400.
40 percent of the strikes hes swinging at when ahead in the count are falling for hits.
So try and follow me here.
1. DOM HAS BECOME THAT MUCH BETTER A HITTER WHEN AHEAD IN THE COUNT
2. PITCHERS WILL EVENTUALLY STOP THROWING STRIKES EARLY
3. DOESN'T THAT MEAN DOM WILL EVENTUALLY GET MORE HITTER FRIENDLY COUNTS??
which would lead to
4. OMFG DOM BROWN JUST CRUSHED A BASEBALL??
The short answer is yes. If he was striking out more, then you have concern. He's not. The walks will come back. and the OBP will go up, because the increased hitter counts will assure that.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but where is there any negative in this? I don't see it. Don't miss the forest for the trees here folks. You've waited a long time for this, and it may just be for real.
As for the walks? They'll come back. Dom has too good of an eye. You don't forget how to ride a bycicle because you're perfecting how to pop a wheelie.
So I don't care about Dom Browns walk rate in May. And neither should you.