“Chris has the talent to be an MVP,” said former teammate Mike Krukow in 1989, but the enigmatic Brown showed little desire to play like one, or often to play at all. Instead, he would infuriate both managers and teammates with a careless attitude and a litany of nagging, minor injuries that were usually described as imaginary. From 1984 to 1988, Brown missed over 250 games with ailments as ludicrous as a “bruised tooth,” but was placed on the DL only once, when a Danny Cox pitch broke his jaw.
Brown made the Topps and Baseball Digest all-rookie teams in 1985 after hitting .271 with 16 HR, and in 1986 he was hitting .348 on June 25 and made the NL All-Star team. Brown had led the Giants in hitting in both 1985 and ’86, but by July 4, 1987 the club was fed up with its moody third baseman and traded him to San Diego in a seven-player swap that brought Kevin Mitchell to San Francisco. Brown hit only .237 with 12 HR in 1987, and .235 in 80 games (though he was never on the DL) in 1988 before being traded to the Tigers in the off-season. Detroit manager Sparky Anderson believed he could motivate Brown, but Brown quickly came up with shoulder and back “problems” and was released in June. He then signed a minor league contract with the Pirates. Brown was called “Tin Man” by both teammates and opponents, a disparaging reference to the “Wizard of Oz” character who had no heart.