Can Domonic Brown bounce back?

Can Domonic Brown rediscover his power stroke? (USATSI)
Can Domonic Brown rediscover his power stroke?(USATSI)

Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has sunk a lot of Fantasy teams this season. A year after breaking out and clubbing 27 home runs, Brown has seen a major down-turn in his production. It's gotten to a point where the organization may be concerned. Brown was benched Tuesday in order to give him a mental break. It's unclear how many games he'll miss before he returns to the starting lineup. The Phillies, much like Fantasy owners, are hoping for a big second half, but is that realistic?

There are plenty of reasons to think Brown will see some improvement in his numbers. Despite utilizing a similar approach at the plate, Brown has seen his BABIP fall to just .247. That figure is the seventh lowest among qualified hitters this season. In that sense, Brown is destined to improve on his average and on-base percentage.

While that would be helpful for Fantasy owners, the bigger question is whether his power will return. Brown's 7.8 percent home run rate is much lower than the 19.3 percent figure he posted last year, which makes it look like his power outage has been fluky. That's not necessarily the case, however. 

Brown has had a lot of trouble putting the ball in the air this year. His fly ball percentage sits at a career-low 29.1 percent. Last season, it was 34.7 percent. Most of the difference has shown in Brown's ground ball rate, which is a career-high 54.1 percent. By putting more balls on the ground, Brown has become a victim of his own approach. He hasn't been able to put the ball in the air as much this year, and it's clearly played a role in his declining power.

Is this correctable? In Brown's case, it seems to be a question of whether he can get in sync at the plate. We know he's capable of driving the ball, but his batted ball issue suggests maybe he's not mechanically sound at the plate. Something in his approach is different, and it's made it tough for Brown to get under balls and put loft on them.

It's certainly possible Brown is working out some of his mechanical issues during his "mental break" period. And it's certainly possible he finds his stroke and returns to form. It may not be the most likely outcome, though.

Batted ball data tends to stabilize fairly quickly, according to Baseball Prospectus. Ground ball and fly ball rates stabilize after just 80 balls in play. Brown has already crossed that threshhold, suggesting things aren't likely to change much this season. It's always possible he'll be an outlier, but history isn't on his side here.

If he hasn't been already, Brown can probably be cut in most shallow leagues. Even in deeper leagues it's probably getting tough to hang onto Brown. At this point, his struggles have been so severe that he's not likely to draw any interest on the trade block. Owners either have to cut bait, or hope for the best. The best doesn't seem like a likely outcome, though. The smart option may be to move on.

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