John Fay writes an article for the Enquirette today:

The article starts off with the Phillips quote from the other day about “not believing in that OBP stuff”…

It continues:

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Phillips can become choosier at the plate.

“I think he can be a little selective – with runners in scoring position especially,” Baker said. “That’s easy to say. But that just goes to increasing concentration.”

He continues….”Sometimes, it appears he’s made up his mind he’s going to swing,” Baker said. “Last year, he started to get a reputation. Once you get a reputation, they’re not just going to throw the ball in there. They start pitching you more carefully, spend more time in the meetings on you. You’ve got to go to school on them.”

Good for Dusty.

The article continues…

Phillips says he’ll try.

“I’m a hitter,” he said. “I swing the bat. I’m an aggressive hitter. They want me to work on that, and I’ll try my best. But I’m a hitter.”

He also defends his numbers from last year…

“My numbers were good last year,” Phillips said. “For me to hit 20-plus homers, steal 20-plus bags and have 70-plus RBI, that’s a good season, especially for a second baseman.”

Phillips notes he missed the last three weeks of the season with a broken right index finger.

“I could have (gone 30-30) again,” he said. “You never know. I had a good season to the time I got hurt. I won a Gold Glove. All was good.”

And on hitting #4…

Phillips will hit cleanup to start the season. He admits he’s a little miscast in that role.

“I’m not a prototypical fourth hitter,” he said. “But I don’t have any complaints. I’m happy to have a job. I’ll hit anywhere one through four. Hitting fourth is a beautiful thing. I’ve had some success hitting there. I’m not a typical fourth hitter. But who else on the team is going to do it?”

I’ll hit anywhere 1-4? Mighty big of him, don’t you think?

I think Phillips is a very good to great defensive player. I think he’s average (at best) as a 2nd baseman offensively. Offensively he rated something like 13 out of 16 at 2B last year?

Additional note: The article, the headline, and main point is Phillips’ On Base Percentage, and the piece is accompanied by his career statistics. In true Enquirer journalistic fashion, the stats grid they show omits OBP.

38 Responses

  1. RiverCity Redleg

    I love it… I’ll hit ANYWHERE, one thru four.

  2. per14

    He should hit sixth.

    Taveras
    Hairston/Kepp (I’m not assuming anything w/ A-Gon)
    Votto
    EdE
    Bruce
    BP
    Gomes/Dickerson
    Hernandez

    I’ve even preserved Dusty’s L/R/L/R infatuation.

    If Taveras rediscovers his 2007 form (ahem), that might actually be an adequate lineup.

    Dang, I can convince myself of anything come springtime.

  3. Dan

    Good for Dusty indeed. I’m impressed he’d pick up on this need, and I’m impressed he’d say something about it (since he is a “player’s manager”).

    Really irks me how closed-minded Brandon is about this topic though. Sheesh.

    It really isn’t a hard concept – don’t make outs!

  4. Dan

    By the way, Brandon’s effective OBP is even worse than it actually is b/c of all the DP’s he grounds into (which is surprising given his speed).

    58 DP’s the last 3 years – holy cow!

    He hits into DP’s at a higher rate than Sean Casey did!! How is this possible?

  5. rpa

    this team doesn’t have a right-handed cleanup hitter. given the current options (weak, to be sure) maybe votto and bruce should hit 3-4.

    on first glance, dusty’s insistence on putting a righty in there makes this team a bit less effective than it otherwise might be.

    votto hits lefties reasonably well. not sure if there’s a way to break down his performance against “tough” lefties as compared to, uh, “other” lefties, but he doesn’t have a huge drop-off like bruce does. so how horrible is it for the two of them to face a lefty reliever back to back?

    one interesting thing to think about – bp hits lefthanders pretty well, actually. maybe i’m ok with him hitting cleanup against a lefty, but against a righty? he should be hitting 6th.

    the funny thing is, if you look at the splits bp has his best numbers hitting in the 4 slot the last two years as opposed to other places in the lineup. not sure what that says, maybe in he was only penciled in there when he was hot. i’m too lazy to look at it more closely. because, while lineups are fun to talk about, i’m not sure how much impact lineup order really has if you have the right 8 guys in there. someone smarter than i can answer that question.

  6. GregD

    Another zinger:

    “Phillips likes the Reds’ new emphasis on speed. “I think it’s a good thing – moving runners from first to second and second to third,” he said. “It’s good to have speed on the team. Speed kills. We’ve been relying on the home run for so many years. We’ve had eight losing seasons. The way I look at it: It’s time for a change. Walt Jocketty brought that in. We’re 100 percent behind him.” ”

    Love the speed in a ballpark built for longballs. A ballpark built for lh sluggers, and the team now has just 2, and hopefully a 3rd LH starter if Dickerson makes the team.

  7. GregD

    I’d bat Edwin 4th.

    If you bat Votto and Bruce back-to-back, the team doesn’t have enough lefties to break up the righties!

    The lineup tool shows the difference between Baker’s lineup and the “optimal lineup” is about 50 runs over the course of a season. The “optimal lineup” typically bats Dickerson leadoff, Phillips 6th, and Taveras 9th (with the pitcher’s spot batting 8th.)

    Yes, good for Dusty. I for one (perhaps one of the very few) think Dusty gets OBP. I know his base-clogging quotes don’t sound like it, but he’s also made comments about Dunn’s and Encarnacion’s slumps last year…he said something like “at least they are still getting on base.”

  8. rpa

    i would not have guessed 50 runs per season. that’s pretty substantial.

    maybe i need to re-think the importance of lineups.

    well, if we get 2008 dickerson, i’m all for him hitting leadoff. even if he’s not quite as lucky in 2009, his minor league stats still show that he has some ability to get on base. and while he’s not going to steal 100 bases, he’s more than fast enough to get extra bases on hits and sac flys and such. maybe this year if willy is getting on base at a .200 clip like cp was, it won’t take dusty so long to pull the trigger and make a change at the top of the order. i still hope i’m wrong about taveras and he hits like 2007, runs like 2008 and steals those 100 bases. i guess i’m naturally a skeptic.

    as far as the park goes, they need to move the fences back in gabp. i don’t see that happening any time soon. we’ll just have to wait until 2020 or so when the reds aren’t able to be “competitive” in such an outdated ballpark and need me to build them another one.

  9. John

    Bold prediction: Brandon Phillips’ legacy in Cincinnati will not be marked by Gold Glove defense or 30/30 seasons, but mostly by his HUGE EGO.

  10. preach

    I am glad to see that Brandon likes the emphasis on speed and station to station play. It’s where he’s at his best. Hopefully he can take what they give him instead of swinging for the fences every at bat. He’ll be much more successful that way. If Willy can get on base, it won’t take much more than a bloop the other way to get him in, and you leave a good baserunner with speed on for Bruce and E5. He’s not a cleanup hitter and he shouldn’t try to be just because he’s in the cleanup spot. Be a successful contact guy and good things will happen (yep, ol’ school baseball. Nuxy would be proud).

  11. preach

    Oh, and the sudden philosophy change to ‘HAVOC and Defense’ is a result of not opening up the checkbook for a power hitter, not some revelatory thinking.

  12. Glenn

    I think one of the reasons that BP hits into so many DP’s is that he really likes that ball low in the strike zone. Because of that, he hits some scorchers on the ground. If their hit right at someone its instant DP.

  13. World

    Taveras, Bruce, Phillips, Votto, EE, Dickerson, SS, C, P

    You can start the runners quite often and BP will not hit into as many double plays.

    Not bad, not bad at all. And in the fourth slot, I bet that Votto will hit 30 homers this year. And if he’s at .300 or thereabouts, that’s what you want from your cleanup guy.

  14. Steve Price

    Phillips hits into a lot of double plays because he swings at that low pitch in the dirt.

    Casey hit into fewer double plays than expected because he hit the other way a lot…line drives over the shortstop.

    Phillips should NEVER hit in the top five, or may be even top six, of the batting order against right handers. Against left handers, yes.

    Bruce doens’t need to bat second…he strikes out way too much and still doesn’t have plate discipline. I’d rather bat him leadoff…he needs to bat sixth right now…on the right time to just let him with less pressure.

  15. Steve Price

    Something else though…

    Dusty wants Phillips to be more patient, take more pitches with runners on base.

    Dusty wanted Dunn to take less pitches and swing more with runners on base.

    I’ll bring back my food for thought from yesterday, or whenever it was.

    Isn’t that based on size and not skill sets?

    Dunn’s a big guy…he’s supposed to hit homers, not draw walks and get on base.

    Phillips is a middle infielder, he’s supposed to punch and judy more…

    Instead of looking at their skill sets and maximizing them, they’re placed in spots where they can’t meet expectations.

    Anyway…I’m too lazy to check this, too, but I’m guessing that Phillips batted clean up most often on Sundays when the opposition was resting some of their better players (like the Reds do after a Saturday night game).

  16. GregD

    “i would not have guessed 50 runs per season. that’s pretty substantial”

    Part of it depends on the assumptions put into the lineup.

    I assumed Taveras was hitting leadoff with his career average (331obp/337slg) and Dickerson was batting 7th with his minor league average (363obp/415slg). There’s a pretty big gain from dropping Taveras to 9th and moving Dickerson’s numbers to #1.

    Also, at the time I assumed Hairston’s career .330obp would be playing SS and batting 2nd. Phillips Reds career .323 obp batting 4th, that gives the Baker lineup .331, .330, .323 obp’s batting 1st, 2nd and 4th.

  17. GregD

    PS. Steve – Last year, Phillips “always” batted 4th and Dunn “always” batted 5th. The exceptions were when Griffey had a day off or the few times Griffey batted 2nd, everyone slid up a spot.

  18. Mike

    Seems like Baker has some doubts regarding BP batting cleanup.

  19. Y-City Jim

    We’re seeing why Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge couldn’t get rid of him quick enough.

  20. RiverCity Redleg

    Despite his crazy talk, I still like BP and am glad he is a Red. I agree that the numbers say he should be batting 7th or so vs righties and 3 or 4 vs lefties, but in real life it may not be that simple. Due to Major League egos, some players play better with consistency (knowing he’ll be a featured hitter) and judging from the quotes, BP may be one of those players.
    I bet BP saves 50 runs a year with his defense over what an avg 2b would.

  21. Dan

    Yeah, let’s not get too crazy, Y-City. Brandon is a good player, just maybe not as good as he thinks he is… 😉

    RiverCity, I agree w/ your whole sentiment, until the end. Brandon is a very good fielder, but I don’t think it’s even possible for one fielder, at any position, to save 50 runs a year. I’m not sure what the number is, but I’m sure it’s less than that.

    At any rate… the OBP is a problem, and his stubbornness around it is annoying, and hurts the team a little. He strikes me as a tad overrated.

  22. Dan

    I’ll spare you my rant on this (as I’ve posted it here many times in the past) but I really think Phillips is overrated (higher perceived value than actual) and I think Rickie Weeks is widely underrated. Weeks is also a great OBP guy.

    I’d think about sending Philllips and a so-so AAA starting pitcher to Milwaukee for Weeks and their slick-fielding young AAA shortstop (Alcides Escobar).

    I’d bat Weeks 1st or 2nd in the order and I think our offense would be instantly better. I really do.

    Again… I don’t hate Brandon, and I don’t think he sucks. I just think he’s overrated, and that’s the type of guy you need to try to “sell high” on.

    His trade value is MUCH greater right now than it will be in a year or two when his big contract extension kicks in.

  23. Dan

    I’m also intrigued by Weeks as an athletic CF or LF in a B.J. Upton-type move, but now I’m just wildly speculating…

  24. rpa

    no way the brewers would trade escobar for phillips. they might trade weeks straight up.

  25. Chris

    I’m really glad Bill posted this, because my headline was going to be “Why I Don’t Like Brandon Phillips.”

    It’s one thing to be a stubborn ass and pretend OBP is some newfangled geek stat. He can be willfully stupid about what matters in winning ballgames. That’s not that unusual, among ballplayers (and writers, radio announcers, etc).

    He can backhandedly bash his former teammates, pretending that Adam Dunn’s 40 HR made the team lose (as opposed to Eric Milton’s 6.00+ ERA). That’s bush, but whatever.

    What he CANNOT do, is blow off his “player-friendly” manager. Despite his faults, Dusty Baker was giving Brandon Phillips exactly the right advice, in exactly the right way. He explained WHY Phillips needs to be more selective – not because patience is an end unto itself, but because pitchers were *specifically* taking advantage of BP’s lack of discipline.

    But Brandon Me-First Phillips just KNOWS he’s a great hitter with no need for improvement (“especially for a second baseman.”) (Which explains why there’s no position change).

    The most amusing thing is that, although he “doesn’t believe” in On-Base Percentage, he immediately cherry-picks some stats to make the case for his “good” season. I never knew “20-20-70” had some special significance.

    I really dislike that guy, actually.

  26. Steve Price

    wow…I had grown so benign to Phillips batting fourth, I didn’t realize….114 out of 162 games last year…

    as for saving runs, Baseball Prospectus estimates Phillips saved 13 runs more than the average second baseman last year, saving 14 more the previous year, but allowed 15 more than the average second baseman his first year with the Reds. For his three years with the Reds, it’s estimated that he’s saved 18 more runs than the average second baseman total over that period.

    It says he produced three less runs than the average second baseman last year on offense, produced nine more than average in 2007, and one less than average in 2006, for a plus five over three years.

  27. Y-City Jim

    Chris, that is exactly what drove Wedge and Shapiro up the wall. Every attempt to get him to make some adjustments was meant with that egotistical arrogance of his so off to Buffalo they would send him.

    His most popular spot in the order in Cleveland?

    The 9th spot.

  28. preach

    I don’t know, BP has done everything asked of him and I believe has been a positive addition to the ball club in every way. I think it’s unfortunate that what is being asked of him isn’t the best use of his skill set. I think he’s come a long way from his ‘franchise’ days. But like so many other players on this team I have to question how he is being managed. And if we had signed a couple of decent bats in the off season perhaps he would say ‘anywhere’ instead of ‘anywhere one through four’.

    Does he have a big ego? Certainly. But name me a club that doesn’t, especially amongst its better players. Perhaps if he wasn’t one of the best players on the team his ego would be a little more in check.

  29. pinson343

    I heard BP give a long live radio interview to Paul Daughtery last nite, and in his case I think you can’t jump on a quote or even a full text of what he said and conclude much. He has a lively sense of humor and likes to have fun with the interviewer.
    He enjoys NOT telling the interviewer (and the listening audience) what they want to hear.

    He’s so full of enthusiasm and positive energy that even as he was ridiculing Daughtery’s shirt and some of his questions, he was respectful. He said a dozen different things that, taken out of context, would sound egotistical or just plain dumb.

    He refused to say that he’d be more “selective” this year, as he doesn’t like the word “selective” applied to hitting. But he did say that he knows pitchers were pitching a little away from him the second half of last year and getting him to chase, and that he would have to adjust to that. Then he was asked what he would do this year when he goes a while without getting a hit (he doesn’t like the word “slump”). His reply: “Swing at the first pitch.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

    He’s the rare athelete who interviews without cliches and is unguarded, spontaneous, and having a lot of fun. I think it’s his approach to everything, I’m glad he’s a Red.

  30. preach

    Yeah, the guy does seem to have a lot of fun with interviewers and I don’t think that translates so well to the written word sometimes. I think he’s a good guy and I’m glad he’s here.

  31. Steve Price

    In my opinion, Phillips is the most fun to watch player on the Reds right now. I do like his enthusiasm, and I think he’s substantially subdued from his Indian days when he they couldn’t have found a faster way to get him into Lake Erie.

    I think Preach is on target with how the Reds’ players are managed. Yes, they have egoes, and I think they need big egoes at this level to be successful…

    Still, he’s not as good as advertised….and I think he may be able to bring the most value back to the Reds in a deal….and may be the one of the most replaceable (after over paid middle relievers, centerfielder, and catcher).

  32. Dan

    I’d like to see Phillips lay off the low outside slider, and also to drive the pitch on the outside corner into the RCF gap for a double like Larkin used to do.

    Swinging at everything, and trying to yank everything for a HR, gets him trouble, I think.

  33. per14

    I think he too shouldn’t be taken too literally in his interviews. Heck, I even like him and his fun enthusiasm. That doesn’t mitigate the fact that he can’t get on base and grounds into double plays.

  34. Bill

    Steve, I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but many minor leaguers have big egos too…

  35. Steve Price

    No question…we were touring the Bats clubhouse a couple of years ago and someone had “Big League” taped over Jared Burton’s locker…

  36. Steve Price

    I will also say this, though, for someone who fell out of favor after getting many chances (hoping that Alonso adjusts better)…

    I remember the day Brandon Larson was “recalled” by the Reds after having just been sent down about two days earlier. He gets in his car and is driving to Cincinnati from Louisville, and he gets a call on his cellphone telling him to return to Louisville.

    Turns out the Reds weren’t allowed to recall him for 10 days after being sent down (Bowden made these mistakes somewhat often…I’m in a hurry and can’t think of their names, but I think we lost two AAAA type first basemen/bordering on big league power hitters due to waiver mistakes during Bowden’s time).

    Larson could have easily gone home and sulked, but he goes to the Louisville ballpark and signs autographs for the kids in his street clothes with a smile.

    I kept rooting for him (he played catch with my oldest son in Louisville the first time he ever went to a game), but it just didn’t happen for him.

  37. Plowboy

    Get off his back.

    Why? ONLY because he’s the only established “superstar” the Reds have, and that enough should tell us to cut him some slack.

    There’s no Griffey or Dunn to kick around anymore.

    Fact: He IS a ridiculously good defensive player and should be moved to shortstop – yeah, right, but still true, nonetheless. SS is still the most athleticially challenging position on the field, and BP is THE BEST overall player on the field – hands down and not even close at this point.

    Fact: He IS seemingly clueless when it comes to smart offensive baseball – hence, his way-too-low OBP, regardless of his speed and skillset.

    As we all know, BP is darn near singularly gifted with the holy “5 tools.” The problem is – HE DOESN’T KNOW IT! Or more accurately, he knows it, yet doesn’t know how to utilize it.

    Someone in the Reds organization please personally have Eric Davis trail this guy every single day before he shortchanges his career with delusions of grandeur!

    I agree: Hit him cleanup against lefties and 6th against righties……but it won’t happen.