Is Domonic Brown a "sell high" candidate, or should the Tigers pursue him?

Mike Ehrmann

Brown had a big year in 2013, but is he the real deal?

It's tough to find a player that hasn't had his name mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, but Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has been all over MLB Trade Rumors for the past few weeks. Would he be a fit for the Tigers?

Season PA HR RBI BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 540 27 83 7.2% 18.0% .272 .324 .494 .351 123
Career 1032 39 141 8.7% 18.4% .255 .320 .445 .330 107
Who is he?

A former can't miss prospect, Brown struggled in short stints in the big leagues from 2010 through 2012. He hit just .236/.315/.388 in 492 plate appearances, leaving many fans to label the former #4 overall prospect a bust before he even turned 25. There was optimism to be had -- yes, even here -- when he put together a solid spring in 2013, but things didn't take off until May, when he hit .303 with a .991 OPS without the benefit of a single walk.

Why should we care?

Phillies fans had become increasingly frustrated with the talented Brown over the past few years, but Brown put everything together in 2013. He hit 27 home runs and put up a .351 wOBA in 540 plate appearances, including a month for the ages when he hit 16 home runs in a 35 game stretch from May 2nd to June 8th. Brown is a fairly patient hitter, sporting a modest 8.7% career walk rate in nearly two full seasons' worth of plate appearances. He also stole eight bases in 2013, and could feasibly reach double digits in the right offensive system.

The most attractive part about owning Brown at this point is his contract. He is under club control for four more years, and will still make the league minimum (or close to it) in 2014. This is huge value for a player who put up 2.5 rWAR from a corner outfield spot in 2013.

Why should we stay away?

Remember how bad Delmon Young was in the outfield? Put the glove on the other hand and you're pretty much looking at Domonic Brown. He had a UZR of -10.7 in over 1100 innings in left field for the Phillies last year and has been worth -23 defensive runs saved in his career. There are also questions about how good Brown truly is. As illustrated above, he hit 16 home runs in just over one month. The other five months of the season, he was a fairly pedestrian hitter. He had a .723 OPS in the second half, lower than that of Andy Dirks, who is far better defensively. Also, Brown has a career .670 OPS against left-handed pitchers, including a .291 on-base percentage.

Will he end up in Detroit?

If he does, I have a feeling that we will be chuckling at the way Dave Dombrowski fleeced Ruben Amaro Jr. to make it happen. Even with the concerns, Brown is a young, cost-controlled outfielder whose bat has the potential to outweigh his significant defensive shortcomings. Spending a year under the tutelage of Torii Hunter might not turn Brown into Austin Jackson, but I would imagine that he could develop into a non-failure defensively while providing more consistent production at the plate.

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