BOSTON - Four players in baseball have hit at least eight home runs in May, and three are considered among the best hitters in the game: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout and Carlos Gonzalez.
The other is Domonic Brown, who hit his team-leading 11th home run of the season in the ninth inning of the Phillies' 3-1 win over the Red Sox last night.
Although he's never won a Triple Crown or been in an MVP conversation, Brown has vaulted himself into the company of Cabrera, Trout and CarGo this month. His emergence at the plate earned him recognition from Major League Baseball.
Brown was named the National League Player of the Week yesterday. He batted .348 (8-for-23) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored in six games last week.
"It definitely feels good," Brown said.
After having a productive spring, winning an everyday job for the first time in his career, the 25-year-old Brown hit .233 with a .681 OPS in April. He was hitting .206 on April 23.
But in his last 30 games before last night, Brown was hitting .284 with an .848 OPS, eight home runs and 23 RBI.
Brown has nearly as many home runs in his last 31 games (nine) as he hit in 116 games between the Phillies and Triple A Lehigh Valley last season (10).
Dating back to last September, Brown has 15 home runs in his last 72 major league games (219 at-bats).
"I think I just had a longer swing, now that I'm looking back on it," Brown said. "I did a lot to my swing to shorten it up, especially in good hitters' counts, just being able to be short and quick to the ball. Before, even in the minor leagues, I would get away with it because pitchers don't have that much movement. Up here, you have to shorten your swing up.
"Being around guys with short swings [helps]. You can definitely see the difference with guys like Jimmy [Rollins], [Chase] Utley, those guys. With that being said, I can't get on the plate like those guys. Me being 6-5, longer arms, I have to be short to the baseball."
Brown's maturation at the plate could soon come with a promotion in the batting order. Last night, Brown hit in the sixth spot in a lineup that's been desperate for regular production from the middle of the order.
"He'll let me know when it's time for him to move," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's headed that way. Really, I mean that. I've developed a lot of players through the minor leagues and big leagues. I've had some of the best players who have ever been in baseball. They'll usually let you know where they're going to hit. Utley and [Ryan] Howard did that. When people talk, 'Why is he hitting down there?' He'll hit his way there eventually."
Howard never hit higher than sixth in 2005, when he won NL Rookie of the Year honors. Less than a year later, he was the team's regular cleanup hitter, a position he's maintained ever since.
"You've got to earn it with Charlie," Brown said. "I grew up the same way. I totally understand where he's coming from, whereas a lot of guys might not. Nothing's going to be handed to you. You've got to go out and work hard. If you're putting up the numbers, then you're going to hit in the top of the lineup."