I have long been a trumpeter of Brandon Phillips.Ã‚Â Early last year, when everyone was talking about how Phillips should be cut loose when the time came, I was pro-extension because I thought he would age well.
I didn’t know he’d actually get better with age.
Phillips’ defense is fantastic, and he derives a lot of value from it. We all know that. However, his offensive stats have really taken a leap the last two years, aided largely by his sudden metamorphosis from a .275 hitter to a .300 hitter. How, exactly, did he pull this off at age 30?
Last year, we all know, is when Phillips was inserted into the lead-off spot. He reportedly loved it and seemed to blossom in his new role. However, Phillips didn’t start hitting lead-off until late in the season, and I think the important change actually happened when he became the number two hitter in June. When that happened, he suddenly started hitting line drives like he never had before.
Since June of last year, Phillips has been hitting line drives roughly four percent more often than his career rate of 18.3%. Line drives, as you probably know, are the balls that most often turn into hits. There, ladies and gentlemen, is your .300 average.
I don’t know what happened with Phillips, but this is too big of a sample to be an accident. Everyone, including Brandon has talked about the change in his approach. He has turned himself from a player who hit line drives at a below average rate to one who hits them at an above average rate. Where he was very average with the bat before, he’s solidly above average now. That’s above average for the major leagues. For a second baseman, he’s everything you could hope for, and that’s why he’s on pace to have his second truly excellent year in a row.
Brandon Phillips has turned himself into the kind of hitter the Reds are going to like having around for a while.