Aug. 11, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: New York Mets outfielder Andrew Brown hits a three run home run in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Can Andrew Brown be part of the future?

Before I dive in, I’ll point out that I’ve written before about Andrew Brown at length; so consider this a follow-up on that.

Andrew Brown, who turns 29 in a few weeks, isn’t a prospect. He was an 18th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, and made his way to the Mets this year after bouncing between AAA and the Majors for the Cardinals and the Colorado Rockies. He’s not young, and hasn’t shown a lot in limited major league time, sporting a career .237/.292/.420 slashline in 228 career plate appearances.

But maybe that’s not the whole story.

In 80 plate appearances over 40 games this season, Brown’s hit a respectable (if unspectacular) .260/.308/.466, highlighted by a pair of pinch hit home runs among scattered playing time. His 118 wRC+ is certainly respectable, comfortably edging the 103 mark aggregated by all major league outfielders. It’s small sample, certainly, but that slash line is a few walks away from a solid corner outfielder. Brown, of course, hasn’t received much in the name of playing time, having only 12 starts this season and 22 appearances in which he’s collected but a single plate appearance. It’s worth noting here that pinch hitters tend to be below average hitters (a combination of small sample size and inconsistent workload): while non pitchers have hit .257/.321/.404 this year, the pinch-hit split is a paltry .216/.296/.331.

We’re getting into a dangerous game here, but maybe Brown’s pinch hit numbers show a similar dichotomy; maybe he’s shown the ability to hit better when not coming off the bench? Let’s look at three splits: his stats in starts, in all non-pinch hit situations (in other words, games where he’s come off the bench but continued as a defensive replacement), and as a pinch hitter (coming off the bench and returning there):

Starter 46 0.268 0.333 0.463
Sub 34 0.250 0.273 0.469
PH 18 0.222 0.222 0.556
Overall 80 0.260 0.308 0.466
Non-PH 62 0.273 0.333 0.436

What we see here is that indeed, Andrew Brown’s splits are largely weighted down by his pinch hitting abilities (4-18 this year). The slugging percentage, lifted by a pair of home runs, stands out as an exception, but is not likely sustainable over the long run (see: Jordany Valdespin). Let’s see if the numbers pan out similarly over his career:

Starter 172 0.253 0.316 0.448
Sub 56 0.189 0.218 0.340
PH 35 0.147 0.171 0.324
Overall 228 0.237 0.292 0.420
Non-PH 193 0.254 0.314 0.439

Sure enough, they do. Now, certainly, Brown’s .254/.314/.439 slashline there still isn’t anything to be desired, but it’s worth noting that he’s generally outperforming it this year, especially in his few starts.

What does this mean? Not a ton by itself, but it does suggest that Brown could be better than advertised. He’s hitting .276/.311/.483 since his recall, and the average and power numbers line up well with his .268/.347/.495 career AAA minor-league-equivalency stats. He’s shown much better plate discipline as a starter than a pinch hitter (a trend consistent with his career numbers):

BB% K%
2013 Starter 8.70 19.6
PH 0 44.4
Career Starter 8.72 23.3
PH 2.86 48.6

Of course, this is all small-sample size; 200 or so plate appearances aren’t nearly enough to judge someone’s ability. But here’s what we do know:

Andrew Brown has mashed the ball in AAA (.305/.383/.570 in 1051 plate appearances), he costs very little, and no longer shows the platoon splits that have likely held him back in the past (since 2012: .306/.358/.573 vs. RHP, .286/.378/.567 vs. LHP).

In my (at times not-so-) humble opinion, I would say it’s in the Mets’ best interest to give Andrew Brown more playing time over the next 46 games. There’s a chance that, should the Mets be able to acquire only one big name corner outfielder (Choo/Stanton/CarGo) that Andrew Brown could be an opening day outfielder. And frankly, there’s a chance that that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

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  • SL

    I’ll make it simple. I have nothing against Brown, but if he is on the big league club next year the Mets don’t win.

    What do I mean? Simple, you’ve proven that stats can be taken to mean almost anything. He is simply not a major league player. What little power he has is not what you need in a 4th outfielder which is, above all, the ability to move around and play good, solid, not spectacular defense.
    The same, btw, is true for Mike Baxter. At worst, EY should be the 4th outfielder, if they don’t find someone better.

    • Joe_JP

      EY is good enough for a 4th OF especially since he can be an emergency 2B if need be. As to Baxter, he has fifth OF potential, especially since he has some pinch hitting skills. He’s a disposable player, but he or Brown for that matter can be an extra OF on a winning team. Starting either one consistently is problematic though short term, okay.

    • paqza

      A Den Dekker/Andrew Brown platoon would unquestionably be better both offensively and defensively than EYJ our in left.

    • Joe_JP

      I have not seen enough of Den Dekker to determine how good he will work in MLB, but in time, he very well might be a better option than someone cited by me as an 4OF.

    • paqza

      Andrew Brown is better offensively and defensively than EYJ and the numbers back that up. EYJ is really a quick dude who should be playing 2B/SS but doesn’t have the arm for SS and isn’t smooth enough at 2B. His defense looks better than it is because we’re coming off of Duda, but the truth is that EYJ doesn’t get good jumps on balls, doesn’t take good routes, and does not catch balls that he has to go back on. He just makes up for his bad routes through speed.

    • SL

      Numbers? What numbers? Brown has no real experience. Besides, for defensive #’s I always refer people to Keith Hernandez DWar or other defensive #’s to prove how ridiculous they are.
      As a former scout, I can tell you the pluses and minuses of EY. He actually takes pretty good routes. His arm is a minus and his offense is close to what it is now, then when he first arrived.
      However, he brings you versatility that Brown never will. Besides being able to fill in at 2b in an emergency, he can also play all 3 outfield positions in an emergency. And in a 4th or 5th outfielder (notice I said that before), that’s what you need. Roster flexibility.
      There is a reason Brown has never really made a major league roster, just as there for Mike Baxter. These guys are at best, emergency call ups.