2 perfect weeks in Domonic Brown's career

Tons of dingers, no walks

January 21st, 2022

In this ongoing series -- inspired by Stereogum’s “The No. 1s” -- we’ll look back on some of the more interesting, notable, and unexpected players of the week in MLB history, an award that has been given out since 1974. While many players of the week have been written about extensively and are entrenched in baseball lore, that is not always the case.


The Week: May 27 - June 2, 2013

NL: Domonic Brown, OF, PHI

AL: Chris Davis, 1B/DH, BAL

If you were obsessed with baseball prospect lists heading into the 2011 season, there really were just two names to know: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Which one was No. 1? Take your pick. Baseball America went with Harper; MLB Pipeline went with Trout. But you couldn’t go wrong with either one of them. There were a few guys roaming around the top five: Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson, the Yankees’ Jesus Montero, a couple of Royals sluggers maybe. But one guy was a consensus No. 4, on both lists: Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown.

Brown was the best sort of prospect: One who came out of nowhere. He was actually better known as a football player; he had committed to play wide receiver for the University of Miami when the Phillies took him in the 20th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. During a workout, they made one adjustment to his swing, and next thing you knew, they were offering him a $200,000 signing bonus to forget about football. Brown made his way through the Minor Leagues over the next four years, and by 2010, he was wowing the big league club, with no less than Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard calling him “the total package.” He got a callup in July, and Philadelphia fans were so excited for him that they gave him a standing ovation in his first home at-bat. Look how excited they were for this guy:

But then, as the No. 4 prospect in baseball, in Spring Training 2011, he broke the hamate bone in his right hand, and his season never really got going. He only played in 56 games and wasn’t on the postseason roster, the last time the Phillies had a postseason roster. Injuries plagued him again in 2012 as he bounced around between the Phillies, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the injured list. But by 2013, he was healthy, at last, and had a fantastic spring, earning himself the starting left-field spot on Opening Day. He continued to struggle, though, and on May 19, he was putting up a .243/.288/.414 slash line with just seven homers. Phillies fans were exhausted with him. Was this guy ever going to be the guy everyone thought he’d be?

And then he exploded. From May 27 to June 8, Brown might just have been the best player in baseball. He homered at Fenway Park on the 27th, and then again the next night in a 3-1 win. The Phillies came back home to play Boston again the next night, and he hit two more. Two nights later, two more homers. He’d hit three more in the next five games. From May 27 to June 8, a span of 13 games, here’s what Brown did:

  • 10 home runs
  • 20 RBIs
  • Four stolen bases
  • .420/.463/1.100
  • 1.563 OPS

For those 13 games, Brown was the best possible version of himself. And he didn’t just win the Player of the Week Award: He won it twice in a row. In fact, he was so good over that stretch, and had hit enough homers at the beginning of the month, that he actually won the National League Player of the Month Award for May. It was all Phillies fans had been waiting for. He looked like the No. 4 prospect in baseball, at last.

But there were warning signs, not least of which was this strange stat from May: Brown was the first player in MLB history to have more than eight home runs in a month without a single walk. His slash line for May: .303./303/.688. That is hard to do.

It turned out to be even harder to replicate. Once pitchers stopped throwing strikes to Brown, he stopped hitting homers: After June 8, he didn’t hit another until June 25. (He still ended up on the NL All-Star team.) He’d end up hitting only eight more the rest of the season. He was also struggling in the field, which didn’t help, particularly among Phillies fans. He had the starting job again in 2014, but he hit only 10 homers with a .235 average in 144 games.

By 2015, though, the Phillies were done with it: He played only 63 games in 2015, hitting five homers and batting .228. The Phillies outrighted him after the season, and he rattled around the Blue Jays’ and Rockies’ systems for a couple of years before finally signing with a Mexican League team. He was last seen in the Dominican Winter League in 2020. Brown now is out of baseball, at the age of 34, which is the same age as Lance Lynn.

It never worked out for Brown. Phillies fans were so excited at the beginning, but frustrated and disillusioned at the end. For that two-week stretch, though, with two Player of the Week Awards in a row, Brown made it all work. For two weeks, he was that star. That’s two weeks more than most of us ever get.

The other player of the week that week was Baltimore’s Chris Davis, who hit 53 homers that year. He’d gone on a similar tear, with a handful of monster homers, but the best factoid about his Player of the Week is what his batting average was on the season when he won it: .357. Chris Davis! Was batting .357! In June! (Davis’ career batting average ended up being .233.)

Around the world

Two NBA Hall of Famers retired this very week: Grant Hill and Jason Kidd. Fun fact: They shared the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award in 1995.

Also, Matt Smith announced that he was hanging them up as the current Doctor Who. He would be replaced by Peter Capaldi.

The No. 1 song

“Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

I will confess, I have no idea what this song is. But also released this week: Lorde’s “Royals,” which would end up winning Song of the Year at the Grammys and would be No. 1 within a matter of weeks.

At The Movies

"Fast and Furious 6" was still No. 1 in its second week of release, but the bigger news was a flop: The expensive collaboration between M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith (and Will Smith’s son), "After Earth," which debuted in third place and quickly sunk afterward.