If Domonic Brown is to have an everyday job for the 2013 Phillies, he'll have to earn it in spring training. With 147 games under his belt, Brown hasn't yet consistently impressed, but don't write him off just yet. Several other successful big-leaguers had very similar starts to their careers.
Brown has hit .236/.315/.388 in 492 plate appearances for the Phillies, with 12 homers, 24 doubles and five steals in seven attempts. It's essentially a full-season's worth of plate appearances spread out across three partial stints.
Those obviously aren't good numbers for a corner outfielder, especially one who has also been a liability running routes. Brown's patience at the plate has been a redeeming quality; he has a 10.4% walk rate, while the league average the last two seasons has been 8%.
It wouldn't be unprecedented for Brown, at age 25, to approach the expectations many had for him. Here are some players who can attest to that, having struggled like Brown during their age 22-24 seasons:
Miguel Montero: The Diamondbacks' catcher has been an elite offensive performer at his position the last four seasons, but his first three partial years were nothing special. He hit .239/.309/.411 from ages 22-24. Staggeringly similar numbers to Brown's .236/.315/.388 line.
Miguel Tejada: Tejada won an MVP at age 28. Four years prior, when he was Brown's age, Tejada was a .226/.286/.373 hitter in just over 500 plate appearances. Like Brown, Tejada was a top-10 prospect, league-wide, by Baseball America.
Aaron Rowand: The former Phillies centerfielder did very little in his first two seasons, hitting .268/.325/.405 in 479 plate appearances. A bit more contact than Brown, but not much more discipline or power.
Eric Hosmer: Hosmer showed flashes of potential superstardom in 2011, when he hit .293 with 19 homers and a .799 OPS for the Royals. Last season, though, he dipped to .232/.304/.359 with 14 homers -- numbers Brown would have projected out to over a full 2012 season.
Cliff Floyd: From ages 25-32, Floyd was the definition of steady, batting .289 with a .885 OPS and averages of 23 homers, 32 doubles and 14 steals. But from ages 22-24? Floyd hit .222/.326/.393. Again, almost an exact match for Brown's slash-line to this point.
Aubrey Huff: He hit .257 with a .683 OPS in his first two years. Then Huff figured things out and hit .291 with an .846 OPS and 25 homers per year the next seven seasons.
Aside from Hosmer, all of these players have in common poor starts to what turned into successful careers. None of them truly are direct matches to Brown's skill set, but many have pieces of his game. Hosmer and Huff have the lefthanded power swing. Hosmer and Tejada have the prospect pedigree. Montero has the uncharacteristic swing. Floyd had the tools.
If Brown can turn into any of them offensively, the Phillies will be thrilled after three stints and no lasting impressions.
The key is to not get wrapped up in the moment. Plenty of players figured things out after their 25th birthday.