Prior to the start of the Philadelphia Phillies 2013 season, there were two players who were hyped up and credited for their strong spring training performance. These players also found themselves with high expectations entering the year, expectations of which neither have yet met.
Although the season is just six games and two series old, both Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown have failed to find the success they saw during the spring training games.
Brown’s spring training brought with it relieved anticipation as in recent years, the Phillies have found themselves conflicted when it comes to what they should do with their former top draft pick and hopeful superstar.
Being shuffled back and forth from the majors to the minors whenever the Phillies were in desperate need of an outfielder, Brown, prior to entering the 2013 season, had really yet to accumulate any sort of consistent and significant number of at-bats.
But when he came into the spring games, a job as a starting outfielder was on the line and Brown clearly impressed. He played in 30 games and led his team in almost all offensive statistical categories. He scored 24 runs, notched 32 hits and recorded 17 RBI, all team highs. He also led the Phillies with seven spring home runs and had a truly solid .356 average.
In the season following Brown’s breakout spring?
So far the 25-year-old right fielder has hit just one home run in the first six games. He also has just one run, two RBI, one walk and six hits. Brown has struck out three times, including twice in key situations with run producing opportunities. His average is just .167.
Howard’s spring narrative is told very similarly to Brown’s, including the part where he has found very little remnants of his preseason success so far in 2013.
Entering the spring, Howard was coming off of injury and needed to prove that he was back and healthy, ready for the tough rigors of a full season of baseball.
Over the course of 28 spring games, Howard seemed to be proving that his injury and health were not going to be a problem. He scored 16 runs, recorded 28 hits, notched 16 RBI and like Brown, led the team with seven home runs.
And just like Brown, has so far failed to translate those numbers into any level of regular season success.
Unlike in the spring, Howard has struggled hitting lefties this season. Also unlike in the spring, the All-Star first baseman has been burned on more than one occasion by the typical shift he is routinely subjected to.
Howard’s 2013 numbers are worse than Brown’s. He has just four hits, one run and three RBI. He has struck out eight times and has yet to hit his first regular season home run.
While both Brown and Howard have experienced early season struggles, so too have the Phillies. In six games, the team has won just two and now find themselves near the bottom of the NL East standings. This has been partly as a result of struggling pitching and also as a result of the failure of guys like Howard and Brown to produce consistently, albeit at all.
Ultimately, the team will need more out of their top superstar spring training sluggers, especially if they have any chance of gaining ground and catching the divisional leaders, even now, so early in the season.