Philadelphia Phillies: Putting Domonic Brown's Rookie Season into Perspective

J SContributor IIIAugust 6, 2011

Surprisingly, Domonic Brown's rookie season has him surround by elite company.
Surprisingly, Domonic Brown's rookie season has him surround by elite company.Len Redkoles/Getty Images

Opinions in Philadelphia on Domonic Brown seem to be mixed at the moment.  There are those who see him as a bust, as a top prospect unable to live up to the billing and think he should be dealt while his value is still high.

They see a player who struggled horribly last season, had to leave winter ball early because of continued struggles and then had a terrible spring training before getting injured.  Then even after being called up this season he never lived up to his hype with the bat while providing sub-par defense.

Then there are others who think Brown has shown promise and at 23 years old just needs time to play every day before he flourishes.  They see that he led the team in pitches seen per at bat, had great plate discipline, led the team in walk rate and was showing flashes of his ability.

But Brown is not the first rookie to struggle.  In fact, Brown actually turned in a league average performance with the bat this year.  While you may want more than average from your top prospect, it is not a bad start for a young rookie. 

Many rookies go on to have long, stellar careers after having rookie seasons even worse than Brown's.  Here is a sample of some of them:

Alex Rodriguez .232 .264 .672 71
Reggie Jackson .178 .269 .574 72
Chase Utley .239 .322 .696 87
Mike Schmidt .196 .324 .697 92
Domonic Brown .246 .335 .728 101
Barry Bonds .223 .330 .746 103
Hank Aaron .280 .322 .769 104
Dave Winfield .277 .331 .714 106
Ken Griffey Jr. .264 .329 .748


Notice how Brown fits in snugly right in the middle of them.  There are other all-time great players like Mel Ott, Roberto Clemente and Rickey Henderson that have had rookie seasons worse than Brown as well.

Don't get the wrong message from this either.  This is not an attempt to suggest that Brown is a future Hall of Famer although I am sure the Phillies would love nothing more than for that to happen.

Rather, all this table does is show that many superstars all "struggled" as rookies.  Many much worse than Brown.  Yet a lot of them went on to be some of the greatest players ever to play their position.

Brown is not perfect and no one will argue that.  His defense leaves much to be desired.  However, with strong defenders in outfield such as Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the Phillies will have the opportunity to let him have growing pains as he develops into a better defender.

It has been suggested that the Phillies are not the type of team that can wait for a player like Brown to develop on the major league level.  That being a title contender means they do not have the luxury of patience.

But maybe that is not the case. Brown showed signs that the more he played this year, the better he was performing.  He ended July with a a .303 batting average for the month.

Maybe a team with such strong pitching, and excellent supporting cast can afford next year to run out a league average bat in left field.  That the upside of Brown's potential is too tantalizing to overlook.

It is just too soon to write off Brown.  Too many players had far worse seasons as a rookie before going on to become all-time greats. In this era of instant access to communication, information and resources patience has become fleeting.  But in the case of Brown, patience just might end up being the Phillies best friend.