The Value of Brandon Phillips

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If you read the final installment of the Reds Round Table, you also read where I asked the panel about Brandon Phillips and the possibility of offering him a contract extension. In that post, I had Tina from from Rockin’ Redlegs and Chad from Redleg Nation and their responses. Well, something happened along the way…

You see, I was going to do a “best of” and draw responses from everyone’s submissions for a special post. Then, I got to thinking especially have tirelessly watching the video of BP’s walk-off from Friday night: how valuable is BP to this team?

I didn’t have to go too far in order to find the answer, but I will also bring back Tina and Chad along with the others for this.

Just to review, here were Tina’s and Chad’s responses.

If Walt does not sign Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati will take it very personally. He is one of the greatest baseball players of his time. He’s on the verge of his third gold glove, which is demonstrated on a near-daily basis with his constant Web Gem-worthy plays at Second Base. He’s one of our most consistent hitters – he’s batting .290 and can literally hit anywhere in the batting order. He’s one of the top three players on the team overall, and it’s not like Brandon is asking for anything excessive – he just wants to be paid fairly, on par with Votto and Bruce (who are the other two in the top three), and that’s not too much to ask. Brandon wants to play for us, but I know that there are many other teams out there that are interested in him. If Walt doesn’t extend Brandon’s contract, and soon, he will be snatched up quicker than his barehanded throws to first, and the Reds will have a mutiny on their hands.

My answer last year was no, because he’d be too expensive and he had too much of a tendency to hot dog and be lazy on the field. My opinion of BP has changed. Phillips might still be too expensive, but I think the Reds need to try to do everything they can to sign BP to an extension in the neighborhood of three years. The problems with lack of hustle have disappeared as his production has increased, and there isn’t a player on the Reds who enjoys being a Cincinnati Red more than BP.

Of course, his profile is rising around the country, and it may be difficult to convince Phillips to sign a reasonable contract. I think the Reds have to try, however.

Something that struck me when reading Tina’s response is what got my thinker thinking…spot in the batting order. Upon review, Phillips has been only in two different spots: 2nd and cleanup. Dig just a little and you will notice something pretty scary…

So I looked at the “2-hole”. BP has started in that spot 55 times this season. Here’s the breakdown:

Reds: .254/.316/.369, 9 HR, 40 RBI
BP: .292/.336/.405, 5 HR, 25 RBI
Others: .200/.289/.291, 4 HR, 15 RBI

The biggest “culprit” in those games when BP is in his other lineup “home” of cleanup is Edgar Renteria. He slash is downright ugly: .167/.295/.197, 0 HR, 5 RBI. This is not another rant about Renteria. The numbers speak for themselves on this. There’s no need for a rant when these numbers are staring you in the face and saying “I can’t hit second”. I only hope Dusty sees (and is aware) of these crappy numbers.

But it doesn’t stop there. I referred to the other spot in the lineup for Phillips: cleanup. BP has recently moved back there and once you ponder the numbers, you will see that this guy could well be the Reds MVP so far in 2011.

Reds: .243/.313/.372, 9 HR, 54 RBI
BP: .276/.333/.418, 4 HR, 26 RBI
Others: .224/.302/.346, 5 HR, 28 RBI

Two players that predominantly contribute to the “others” are Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce. Their contribution (or as you’ll see, lack of) is as follows:

Rolen: .203/.245/.308, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Bruce: .225/.329/.324, 1 HR, 6 RBI

You might consider Bruce, as Kerry puts it, a small sample as it is only 20 games. But it is telling. It is telling me what I had feared when fans were screaming for Bruce to be inserted into the cleanup spot, he’s too streaky for that spot in the order. Plus, when Jay hits a slump, he really hits a slump! You need more consistency from your cleanup guy. That’s one of many reasons that the Reds were successful last season. Rolen was that anchor hitting cleanup.