Brandon Phillips is currently not talking to the local Cincinnati media according to Anthony Castrovince, because of he believes they were unfair to him during the 2013 season and the offseason. Phillips had this to say in the Castrovince article:
I don’t have nothing to say to those cats, they know what the deal is. They just talk about how I was falling off and declining. How the [expletive] am I declining? I had 100 … ribbies [RBI] last year. And I did that with one … hand. And I won a Gold Glove? So how the [expletive] am I declining? Come on, man.
Phillips had some things correct in that quote. He did have 100 RBI and he did win the Gold Glove. Phillips does ask the question though, how is he declining? Well, let’s look into it. In the 2011 season Brandon Phillips hit .300/.353/.457 where his average and on-base percentages both represented career bests and the slugging percentage was the second best of his career. The following season Phillips saw all three drop as he hit .281/.321/.429 on the season. That line was above-average for a middle infielder, but it saw his OPS drop 60 points from the year before. Then we move to the 2013 season where Phillips again saw all three numbers drop as he hit .261/.310/.396. All three of those represented the lowest of his career as a Cincinnati Reds and saw his OPS drop off another 44 points from the year before.
So when Brandon Phillips asks how he was declining, that is a very easy question to answer. Phillips seems to only want to look at, or at least openly cite his RBI total and his defense. Unfortunately there is more to the value of a baseball player than just those two things. Of course Phillips brings up a point in the above quote that does have a lot of merit to it. His hand.
The Cincinnati Reds second baseman was hit by a pitch on the hand the first day of June and nearly missed a week before returning to the lineup. Phillips was hitting .296/.347/.481 at that point in the season. To be frank, he was making a run at his best season as a professional up to that point. After he was hit by that pitch though things went south. He would hit just .193 the rest of June. July wasn’t much better as he carried a line of .240/.291/.360.
Phillips did rebound in August as he hit .304 and saw his power start to come back as he slugged .473. That power disappeared when the calendar flipped to September though as he hit just .211/.276/.263 on the month with just three extra-base hits in 108 plate appearances to finish out the regular season.
As noted above, before he was hit by the pitch in his hand he posted an OPS of .829. After coming back from being hit by that pitch he posted an OPS of just .637. Offensively speaking, that is basically going from an all-star caliber player to a player who should be in Triple-A. The evidence backs up the story that Phillips is telling that he wasn’t healthy and that his hand was effecting his play.
Who is right in their side of the story? That really is tough to say because both sides seem to be right. Phillips has declined when looking at his numbers, even if you consider his RBI total when we look at the overall picture. Fairly or unfairly, that is the truth and the media is correct when they state it. Brandon Phillips however is also right when he says that he played with an injured hand and that it did effect his play and the numbers clearly back that up when looking at his season before and after the ball to the hand on June 1st.