Walks Matter for Dom Brown
No, most spring stats don't matter. Especially not for hitters.
But there does seem to be one that translates to the regular season, and it just so happens to relate to Domonic Brown's white-hot start and the Phillies' biggest need.
In 2012, Adam Dunn (15 walks) and Rickie Weeks (14), ranked second and third in spring play. Come the regular season, Dunn led the majors with a 16.2% walk rate, and Weeks' 10.9% ranked 19th. The year prior, Ryan Roberts (13) and Alex Avila (12) ranked second and third in exhibition action. Avila's 13.2% walk rate was good for 11th in games of meaning, with Roberts' 11.9% coming in 21st. And in 2010, spring walk leader Daric Barton worked a major league-leading 16.0% through summer.
That may be good news.
To date, Brown leads the majors with six walks. By comparison, the Phillies spring walk leaders a year ago, comically, Jimmy Rollins and Jim Thome, had seven in 23 and 17 games. Brown has played six games this spring and has had just 13 at-bats. Currently tied with Brown atop the spring training walk roost are Jurickson Profar and Dee Gordon, like Brown, top prospects of the present and past.
Of course, there are instances where even a good eye in the spring sours later. And Brown's issue, more than plate patience or hand position or anything above the shoulders is his durability. If Brown's healthy, he should be, at worst, serviceable.
That, unfortunately, remains a big if.
It also won't be enough to counter the team-wide tendency of baseball's 24th-best walk-getting club in 2012. (They ranked 26th in walk rate, with a 7.4%) Through seven games this spring, outside of Brown, the Phillies have drawn just 19 walks. Last regular season, the seven-game major league average would be 20.7.
Simply, walks help cushion slumps for batters, and in the Phillies' case, teams.
So even though it's unlikely that Brown's .385/.600/.923 slash line holds when games begin to matter, it's all the better that his penchant for walking just might.