clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Domonic Brown and Gary DiSarcina

Who are two people who have never been in my kitchen?

Well, true, but that's not exactly why I'm writing about them together.  For those who don't know, Gary Disarcina was a shortstop for first the California then the Anaheim Angels for most of the 90s.

Back in the day, Baseball Prospectus named an award after him -- the Disars Award.  Because of Disarcina's fear of the base on ball (lifetime .292 OBP, never more than 21 walks in a season), the award was given annually to the player who had the most consecutive plate appearances to start a season without a walk.  What was cool about the award was that the winner, often Shawon Dunston, could materialize at any time during the season.  A player who was on the opening day roster who went his first 60 plate appearances without a walk could be overtaken at the end of the season by a bench player who gets his 61st plate appearance of the season on the last day.  Or, he could be overtaken by a minor league callup in the middle of the season like . . . Domonic Brown.

Domonic Brown is an unlikely Disars Award candidate.  In the minors, Brown always had very nice walk rates.  He spent parts of five years in the minors, from 2006 to 2010.  His walk rates, in order, were 9.2%, 8.8%, 12.4%, 10.8%, and 9.5%.  He has a good eye that hasn't really suffered as he's adjusted to better baseball.

But, so far, in 33 plate appearances in the majors, he's taken zero walks.  In fact, since he has 31 at-bats and 2 sacrifice flies, he has the rare combination of a higher batting average (.226) than on-base percentage (.212).  Small sample size warnings are blaring here, and there's no reason to believe that this is going to be a problem in Brown's long and storied major league career.  He'll make the adjustments, and he should be a reliable patient hitter for the Phillies for years to come.

However, I'm curious how Brown compares to other recent high-profile Phillies' call-ups in their first round of plate appearances.  Is he in the running for the Phillies' promoted-to-the-majors Disars Award?  Here's how he stacks up.  The walk rate here is the minor league walk rate for the player before he was called up to the majors.  The last column is the plate appearance in which the player got his first major league walk.

Player Minors BB% First Walk
Jimmy Rollins 8.8% 1
Marlon Byrd 8.7% 1
Scott Rolen 11.3% 5
Ryan Howard 10.9% 11
Pat Burrell 16.3% 15
Carlos Ruiz 10.6% 30
Domonic Brown 10.5% 33
Chase Utley 8.5% 47

This chart probably leaves everyone aghast.  Jimmy Rollins walked in his first major league plate appearance.  Yup, true story!  And, the Phillies promoted-to-the-majors Disars Award current winner is none other than Chase Utley, the player whose current walk rate is 12.7%.

Dom Brown is closing fast though.  He has another 14 plate appearances before he overtakes Utley for this prestigious award.

Rest assured, what we see from this chart is that when a player gets his first walk is not indicative of future career performance.  So don't worry about Brown's walk-less start.  He'll be fine!