Reds in 2013: Brandon Phillips


Can any Reds player have more personality than Brandon Phillips? Not even close. Can any Reds player be asked to perform a variety of offensive roles within a Reds lineup other than BP? Probably not close there either. Since becoming a valued member of the Cincinnati Reds, Phillips has seen his name penciled in numerous spots within the Reds lineup.

This past season, BP would find his name at lead-off, third (during Joey Votto‘s absence) and clean-up. While the success at lead-off did not transfer from the end of 2011 to 2012, Phillips did compile some decent offensive numbers.

Brandon will begin his 8th year in a Reds uniform once the 2013 commences. Yes, his 8th. Here’s what he’s done in his previous seven…

You might think due to the differing roles BP has played, arriving at some sort of projections would be difficult. It isn’t. As you can see from his previous seven years, aside from 2007, he’s pretty darn easy to project. Via Fangraphs, here’s what Bill James has projected for Phillips for the upcoming season.

These are reasonable expectations. They could be adjusted in a minor way if BP could ever find a spot in the lineup…and stay there. In a sense, that’s what makes BP a valuable commodity. He possesses enough offensive flexibility to afford Dusty those options.

Aug 31, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; BP reacts during a game against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

But both tables do show us something. Phillips is not one to walk. In fact, his 2012 BB% of 4.5% was the lowest of his career, not just as a Red. James does see that taking a slight uptick to 5.9% for 2013, but that walk rate won’t cut it in the lead-off spot.

The plus side is that BP isn’t a strikeout machine. His SO% last season was 12.7%. In fact, Phillips has a SO% rate under 13% for the last four years. 2012 was the closest to going over that number when it was 12.7%.

He sees a pitch he likes and he swings. Some would suggest that he’s not as selective as others. Maybe that’s the best way to look at it. As a bit of a comparison, Votto saw a total of 2,042 pitches in his 475 plate appearances. Phillips saw 2,291 in 623 PAs. That’s only about 250 more pitches in almost 150 more PAs. I know they are two different types of hitters, but…

I see. Label him as “aggressive”. Like practically everything else, it has its pluses and minuses.

I think of the Reds could hone in on a particular spot in the batting order, I think we would eventually see the real BP. With the circumstances as they currently sit, who knows where he will bat in the order for 2013. Some would say let him hit lead-off. Some believe #2 is a better slot. Statistically speaking, Phillips has tasted most of his success as a clean-up hitter (.282/.331/.454, highest in all triple slash categories for any lineup spot where he owns more than 300 PA). If the Reds do re-sign Ryan Ludwick, that won’t happen. Batting third is out of the equation as well. Might as well take 5th out of this discussion, too.

Bottom line is wherever BP is put, he will produce. Might not be the most ideal numbers for any particular spot, but you know what you will get offensively: some pop, some speed and a lot of annoyances to opponents.

The first post in this series:

Joey Votto