Mike Schmidt and Domonic Brown after 500 plate appearances
Click on the statistics to the right. Those are the career hitting totals for Domonic Brown in the big leagues, courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Kind of disappointing for a big-time prospect, right? In fact, some people call him a failed prospect, a bust.
Next up are nearly the same amount of plate appearances for Mike Schmidt at the start of his career. Take a look.
Not all that different from Dom Brown, are they? In fact, in some ways they are worse.
Schmidt eventually figured it out at the plate and merely became the greatest offensive third baseman in MLB history. So, it begs the question: Why in the hell does Dom Brown have so many people around writing eulogies to his career after 500 plate appearances?
"The difference between me and Domonic Brown in that analogy," Schmidt said, "is that I was an infielder. I didn't really have any competition as a third baseman. I guarantee I would've been in the same boat as him if I were a left fielder or right fielder. They expect more out of you, you have to assert yourself more as a hitter in order to win a job in the outfield ... From a hitting standpoint, even now he might be ahead of where I was at that time, a little better idea of hitting. I couldn't hit a ball to the opposite field to save my butt back then. I couldn't hit a curve ball, I couldn't hit a slider. But I sure could hit a long home run down the left-field line and play third base. I was afforded the time to make adjustments and sort of become an everyday, consistent major-league hitter. He doesn't have that luxury."
In a way, it makes sense. The outfield allows for a little more defensive liability in exchange for offensive readiness. And there is a far larger stockpile of capable outfielders around (which is why the Phillies can enter this season with question marks out there, since acquiring outfielders in trades isn't all that difficult).
Schmidt then said something interesting about his career:
"When you talk about my career, it would've been very, very mediocre if I were a left fielder. You would be comparing me to a lot of guys you don't compare me to right now. I was an infielder, not an outfielder."
That's quite a statement from a Hall of Fame member who never has been reluctant to admit he's the cock of the walk, and it's probably an overstatement. The guy hit 548 home runs when you could fit 500-homer members on standard-width horizontal poster. The Steroid Era forced the landscape version needed today.
Schmidt seemed to indicate that 2013 will determine whether Brown will be a Phillie in 2014. What he didn't question was Brown's potential.
"It's about time that Domonic does the things that everyone thinks he can do. And not does them over a day, but does them over a month, then two months. And that's when he gets his name inserted in the lineup every day. Who knows who it will be with? I hope it's here, when he's in a Phillies uniform. But sometimes young kids like that, the opportunity comes with another team. I don't know. But it's getting to that time where Domonic needs to become the player everyone believes he can be. And hopefully it will be soon, hopefully this year."