Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Reds Grades by Position: 2nd Base


Look to 2B for the Reds and you think and say one name.

You mention Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips to baseball fans outside the Reds fanbase and it’s a pretty good bet you might not hear the most positive opinion. Showboat. Hot dog. Others that involve a profane word or two.

You mention Brandon Phillips to Reds fans, and you might be surprised that there are those that feel the same way. Go to a forum or two. You’ll see what I mean.

So when I examine the Reds overall performance of the position, you have to largely consider BP. WHen I delved in his 2013 season, I started by looking solely at the numbers. Added the ol’ eye test and then considered something else. You’ll see.

But there’s another word that get tagged to BP these days: regression. Head to any site that houses baseball stats and it’s pretty evident.

Offense

You look at BP’s RBI total for this past season and you smile. I mean 103 is a lot. In fact, most of his career. Then, some now realize that RBI are viewed more as a team stat despite the fact it is listed under an individual player’s stats. If guys are on base, got to drive them home, and BP did perform well with runners in scoring position this past season (.338 BA with 82 RBI). Having a career high nine sacrifice flies aided in this.

Phillips has also never had a high walk rate (highest of 6.8% in ‘09) and not excessive in his strikeout rate (highest of 15.5% in ‘07) either. To scan over this area is actually a bore.

In practically every other stat, primary or secondary, the numbers are far less flattering.

Phillips set career lows in batting average (.261, same as in ‘08), on-base percentage (.310), slugging percentage (.396), and ISO or isolated power (.135). But you know you’ll get 18 home runs as he’s put that up in each of his last four seasons.

Taking that Tony Watson fastball off the left forearm did limit him. I think moving him from clean-up to the 2-hole affected him as well. I cannot deny that BP is a versatile man lineup-wise because he had previously shown the ability to hit in any of the top four lineup spots.

Just never got back on track after that drilling.

Grade: C-

Defense

Owner of three Gold Gloves, so we’re all good, right? Not exactly. At least one defensive metric suggests otherwise. This past season, BP posted his lowest DRS (1) ever for his career. That still ranked fourth among all NL second basemen. He also committed the most errors (9) of his career (also had 9 in 2009).

This all said, BP did rank second among all NL 2Bers in UZR (8.6) and second in UZR/150 (8.5). Bet you can guess who was higher? Yep. Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs led the NL in both at 12.5 and 15.5, respectively.

No one should ever question BP’s athletic ability as we see him make some of baseball’s most outstanding defensive plays year in, year out. This might be my favorite.

Sure, have the behind the back and through the legs, but I still find that play amazing.

Grade: B

Overall

What might grab the attention of some is that according to Fangraphs, BP was actually a decent value last season. Of course, this depends on how stock you put into using WAR as a measuring stick. BP’s bWAR was 2.6 and Fangraph’s conversion of WAR into a dollar scale suggests that Phillips posted a season worth $12.9MM. He made $10.0MM.

One factor that no stat can accurately measure is how Phillips energizes the fanbase, whether in a positive or negative fashion. By now we’re all familiar to the various comments made in a published interview for a local magazine. Have the comment about fair-weather fans.

There’s the numerous pics online of BP posing with fans. A few accounts of BP attending local ball games or events. He’s been a PR dream and a PR nightmare. Obviously, it depends on your opinion.

Might wonder why I’m taking this under consideration. For those that love BP, he brings them into GABP. I’m not sure his presence in a Reds uniform drives fans away either. Have never seen that comment anywhere. It does add to his value.

Overall: C

I could have been generous and added a “+” to the grade, but it simply didn’t feel right.

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