Forecasting 2015: Brandon Phillips

From an offensive standpoint, Reds fans have noticed there has been some regression from Brandon Phillips. Please be aware that I said offensively. We know the defense largely comes into play where Phillips is concerned. And as we are all aware of by now, Phillips was “overlooked” for the 2014 Gold Glove.

Here’s what the early 2015 Steamer projections provide us as far as what to expect from BP’s bat in 2015. We also revisit Joey Votto and his projections. This way, we can start to slowly build what the Reds offense as a whole could produce next season.

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From 2011 to last season, Phillips’ fWAR has retreated each season. In 2011, it was 5.6, the highest of his career. In 2012, his fWAR dropped to 3.7. While that is still a respectable number, the drop of almost two full points is a red flag. 2013 saw a fWAR of 2.6 and last season it was 1.8.

Now, look above and notice the 2.2 for his fWAR. And are you astonished that the slashline, HR and RBI show a slight uptick from his 2014 numbers (.266/.306/.372, 8 HR, 44 RBI)? Consider that BP played in almost the same number of games (121) that the projections are laid out for can give us a bit more optimism for 2015.

Phillips has never been a high OBP guy. We know all about that fateful “one-sided discussion” from the past, but it is true. The highest OBP he has for any season is .353 from that 2011 season. The second highest of his career is .332 from the previous season of 2010. And there is a commonality between those two seasons: BP did spend portions of those two seasons as the leadoff hitter.

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  • Here’s why I mention that. Depending on where Phillips is within the Reds batting order, he has usually provided an adaptation for what he feels that spot in the order should give his team. It’s not always pretty or what we feel it should be, but he has managed and still stayed on the side of being productive.

    Well, until the past two seasons. There is something afoot here.

    One reason is his BB% which has a direct affect on OBP. It has never eclipsed 6.8% in any full season. Last year, his BB% was 4.6%, second lowest of his career. Steamer shows that will increase to 5.4% next season. You only have to go to 2013 to see that it was 5.9%.

    One area that has seen the most significant drop off over the past three seasons has been that of the stolen base. For each of the past three seasons, BP has 15, 5 and 2. For 2015, Steamer projects he will swipe 4.

    But is it possible these projections are too high? Too lofty?

    Phillips will turn 34 in the middle of next season. Second base can be a physically demanding position. Take those two variables into consideration and expecting these offensive numbers might be a slight stretch, but if BP is healthy in 2015, these numbers are certainly attainable.