Many were shocked when Dan Sysikhfahbior released his 2012 ZiPS projections for the Giants earlier this year. We knew Panda could hit, that Crawford couldn’t, and that Vogelsong will regress. But a 99 OPS+ for Gary Brown? That’s not bad! That would make him a league average hitter with Gold Glove potential in center field and blazing speed on the basepaths. A valuable asset for any team that doesn’t have Matt Kemp or Andrew McCutcheon. Which we don’t. But before we start clamoring that Brown should be our starting CF in 2012, let’s go over the reasons he shouldn’t:
Look At The Guys We Already Have
From left to right in the Giants starting outfield we have “that guy’s pretty good”, “oh he’s fast”, and “you know that guy is pretty solid”. Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and Nate Sheirholtz aren’t enough to block a guy like Giancarlo Cruz Michael “Mike” Stanton- who has shown he can hit 40 home runs at the age of 22. But they are good enough that Gary Brown can’t play his way into their jobs. If Brown made the team, he would be fighting a veteran for playing time. And when all “Those Guys” have you and your five tools listed as the only Giants prospect in the Top 100 in baseball, you should never have to fight for a job.
Gary Brown, outside of what he will see this spring, has never faced major league pitching. The same goes for AA and AAA pitching. Look what happened when Brandon Crawford skipped levels in 2011. Different caliber of hitter, but the idea is still the same. His skills will translate into success at the big league level, but the Giants don’t need to overwhelm Brown with the Kershaws and the Petcos of the world. Gary Brown should be the best hitter on his team and should be in contention for league MVP, whether that means AA Richmond or AAA Fresno. Confidence.
The Giants get a free-ish Gary Brown for 3 full seasons, or 2 super(?) ones. Then if he is good we have to start paying him things. Then if he stays good we have to convince him we have lots more things to give him and that every other city in America is Detroit. With Cabrera and Pagan on the one-year plan, it makes sense to kick-start Brown’s service time in 2013.
Mr. Brown and Mr. Ellsbury have similar skill sets despite swinging from the other side of the plate. Their diminutive stature, the ability to hit for average, and the ability to use their speed on defense and the basepaths makes for a nice comparison. The Giants should handle Brown the same way the Sox did Ellsbury- in the latter’s 24-year season he started in AA and raked his way to a late-season call up and 127 big-league plate appearances. In 2011 FanGraphs listed Jacoby Ellsbury’s Wins Above Replacement as 9.4. Nine Point Four. Just saying.
See you in September, Mr. Brown. I have until then to give you a nickname better than Tacoby Bellsbury.