The Cincinnati Reds may have the best right side of the infield in baseball. You could make a strong case for the Yankees with Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira, or the Red Sox with Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, or even the Phillies with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, if the two of them could ever stay healthy. But if you proclaimed that the Reds had the best first base-second base duo in the game, few would argue with you.
Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are the two best things about being a Reds fan right now. The team’s two biggest stars are both fun to watch, but their personalities, both on the field and off, seem vastly different.
It’s like the human brain. The brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left brain is logical, analytical, mathematical. Like Joey Votto. The right brain is more artistic, creative, spontaneous. Like Brandon Phillips. While each side of the brain functions in its own way, they are both necessary for the brain and the body as a whole to function properly. And, like the brain, as Votto and Phillips go, so go the Reds.
Votto is known for his offense, but he’s also a Gold Glove winner. Phillips is known for his defense, but he’s also a Silver Slugger winner. Phillips flies all over the field to make plays, snags the ball with his bare hands, and flips it behind his back and between his legs. Votto pretty much stands on the bag and catches the ball.
Phillips will bat cleanup, leadoff, or second. Votto always bats third. Phillips is flashy. Votto is stoic. Phillips will plow through a catcher, march back to home plate, and thump his chest as he stomps on the dish. Votto rarely shows emotion on the field (unless an umpire rings him up with a called third strike).
Phillips is never one to shy away from the public. He’s an annual fixture on the Reds Winter Caravan. He has an army of Twitter followers. Votto is borderline reclusive. He lets his play on the field speak for him. DatDude produces great quotes nearly as often as produces Web Gems. Votto, when asked if he might consider moving to left field to make room for Yonder Alonso: “I think I’m a pretty good first baseman.”
And yet, for all of their differences, they share one key similarity. They both produce. Phillips is the sweet jelly to Votto’s crunchy peanut butter. They are perfect complements. They are better together. Votto wouldn’t be a 100 RBI guy if he didn’t always have Phillips on the bases to drive home. Phillips has always been a really good player, but few outside of Cincinnati knew about it until Votto came along. Since then, BP has three Gold Gloves and two All-Star game appearances.
With spring training approaching fast, I can’t wait to see them work together again.