I keep seeing people say that Brandon Phillips is due for a big rebound. I wish that were true, but I have no idea where it’s coming from. Consider the following things.
1. BP is entering his age-34 season. This is not an age at which payers rebound.
2. His offense has a very clear and steady decline since the career-year he had in 2011. Last year he had a wRC+ of only 88 and he generated only 1.8 fWAR. This after 2011 highs of 122 and 5.6, respectively.
3. Since 1960, there have been only 58Ã‚Â seasons in which a second baseman age-34 or older has generated an fWAR of at least 2.0. There are a lot of repeat names on that list and a lot of them are from players like Biggio and Morgan and Lou Whittaker who are, will be, or should be in the Hall of Fame. There’s also a second cluster around the steroid era.
I get that it is tempting to believe that with BP, it’s just been about the injuries. That is, he’s been hurt, and so not able to play as well. But the truth is, that’sÃ‚Â part of the aging curve. We should expect him to playing healthy less often. We should also expect his skills to decline.
The Reds have BP for three more years. He will finish his career with them at the conclusion of his age-36 season (I’m assuming this is his last contract). He ain’t getting better. What we should hope for is that he doesn’t lose too much more ground. There are just as many instances of a a second baseman at BP’s age providing replacement-level value or worse as there are of them being above average. And the thing is, none of those guys started bad. If they had, they wouldn’t have still been in the majors at 34.
Baseball players age and old for a ball player is different than old for a regular person. BP is not old for a human. He is old for a second baseman. Is it possible he’ll bounce back? Sure. But there is nothing at all about his profile that makes it likely.