Is Domonic Brown a product of Citizens Bank Park?

Bat meets ball. - Drew Hallowell

It is early, right? But still, the large "home/away" splits for Domonic Brown bear watching. During his brief career, he has 21 homers in home games and just 10 on the road in an approximately equal number of plate appearances. Is this statistical noise or is it important?

Though it never happened in a Major League game, I sometimes imaging Harry Kalas describing Domonic Brown in action: "He swings! A long drive to DEEP right field! That ball's OUTTA HERE!" It has been fun to see lots of those homers so far in 2013, one of the few truly bright spots of this really frustrating season. There have been lots ofmajestic fly balls to deep right field in the Bank, but not many on the road.

Here are the splits for Domonic Brown for his career.

Here are his splits for 2013.

Look at two columns: Isolated power and Home Runs.

He has hit 12 homers in 116 plate appearances at home (1 in 10), but only 7 in 153 plate appearances on the road (1 in 22). His isolated power (ISO) at home is .387 but only .201 on the road. The number of plate appearances is key -- we're talking fewer than 300 plate appearances overall, but there's a trend there. Whether it is a meaningful trend or merely statistical noise is the key issue.

We could try to flesh this out by looking at years prior to 2013, but Brown was hamstrung by injuries, including the power-sapping hamate fracture and subsequent surgery. Still, if we add those numbers in, you get 374 home plate appearances and 21 homers. On the road, you have 387 and 10. Separating the numbers from this year, and the "pre-2013" Domonic Brown looks like this: 258 plate appearances and 9 homers at home (1 in 29) versus 234 plate appearances and 3 (1 in 78) homers on the road.

In other words, the data looks worse.

This is not a player who is hitting "cheapie" homers into the first row of CBP. Only two of the homers this year were "cheapies." Still, what accounts for all the damage at home but not on the road? The HR/FB% for 2013 (here, page down) is 46.2% at home and 15.6% on the road. The truth is probably somewhere there normalized in the middle. A normalized number league-wide is likely something in the 10 - 11% range, for instance.

The data set is really small, though stabilization of HR rates and ISO rates should occur in under 200 plate appearances. Domonic Brown is clearly in a state of flux right now though, as he figures out how to harness his potential and as pitchers around the NL realize that they should stop throwing him belt-high pitches on the outside half of the plate (Clickit for the glorious gif - h/t Crashburn Alley). I can't really conclude anything right now, but it sure is interesting, isn't it?

Game on, says the Red Queen.

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