The follow-through of Brown from this past season. (David M. Warren/Philly Inquirer)
It’s been about six years since the last time Phillies fans have been buzzing over a prospect. First baseman Ryan Howard, 26 at the time, was that player.
Now the fans have a new left-handed hitting slugger to look forward to lighting up the score board in Citizens Bank Park. Domonic Brown made his debut last season, ripping a double off the top of the right centerfield fence in his first at-bat.
Since that double, Brown struggled immensely at the plate, batting .210 (13-68) last season. But hitting coach Greg Gross, who got the promotion in July, told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Dave Murphy that he has corrected the problem in Brown’s approach.
The big swing Brown takes was not the problem. Instead, it was the placement of his hands while standing in the batter’s box.
This picture was from 2009. Notice where Brown's hands are.
It was the first thing I ever noticed about Brown’s swing. I had the same problems in high school with holding my hands too high. By doing so, Brown loses something off his swing, not allowing him to make solid contact.
Here are Gross’ words on how he worked with Brown’s swing:
“The good part about it is it didn’t have anything to do with his swing,” Gross said. “It was just the position he was in to get started – and that wasn’t that bad, either. It was just the timing of when he got to the place where he was ready to swing. Then [his hands] would drop even more and he’d be late….
“He just didn’t feel the same as he did before,” Gross said. “I think he was just trying to find a comfort zone when he was sitting on the bench 2 or 3 days at a time.”
Ah, a comfort zone. The exact same thing I have noticed many times with Howard and his stance. Howard is known to either crouch too low or stand up too high during his slumps. When he does that, he either tops the ball, pops up or completely misses good pitches. Now this doesn’t fully affect his poor decision making at the plate with taking balls and strikes – that’s a completely different story – but it does explain when he struggles.
I will be very interested to see how Gross’ work will impact Brown’s swing. And if has a huge impact on him then I would hate to see Brown fall back into the bad habit.
It’s hard changing your style of play at this point. Luckily Brown is young enough that the clay is still moldable.