Sullivan: Dominic Brown and the reality of breakout seasons

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on November 14, 2013:

[Dominic] Brown just had himself a breakout season at 25 years old. The way we think of these things means Brown has achieved a new level, and going forward he’s going to be an excellent hitter. Dave [Cameron] presented a few counter-examples — young players who had breakout seasons in 2012 before largely taking a step back. The suggestion is that breakout seasons might not mean what we think they mean. Dave’s sample size was woefully small, but I wanted to dig a little deeper. It was a point potentially most intriguing.

It’s not easy to go through the recent history and isolate breakout seasons. Doing so requires a lot of time and a handful of judgment calls. What’s going to follow is incomplete — I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of breakout seasons — but the way I decided to do this was to fit criteria around what Brown has done. Research made liberal use of the Baseball-Reference Play Index, and for that reason you’re going to see OPS+ cited, instead of wOBA or wRC+. While I prefer the latter two, we don’t need that kind of accuracy here, since OPS+ should give the same ideas. All I care about are general trends, and even raw batting average would probably get the job done to a considerable extent.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 14, 2013. Last Updated: November 14, 2013.