Should the Cincinnati Reds Trade Brandon Phillips?


Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest noise Brandon Phillips has made this spring hasn’t been on the baseball field — but in the media room. Entering his 10th season in Cincinnati, the conversation around the Reds’ second basemen is about his on-base percentage. In 2013, Phillips feuded with C. Trent Rosecrans about his OBP. Apparently, he still feels the same way about it:

"“I don’t do that MLB Network on-base percentage [stuff],” Phillips told USA Today. “I feel like all of these stats and all of these geeks upstairs, they’re messing up baseball, they’re just changing the game. It’s all about on-base percentage.”"

There are various opinions on advanced stats — some may be overvalued — but is there anything “advanced” about on-base percentage? It seems like a very simplistic stat to me. What is so complicated about a stat that measures the percentage of successful times a player gets on base? Nothing. It’s as simplistic of a stat there is in the game. It also matters. Good teams get on base, move runners over, and drive them home.

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In his career with the Reds, Brandon Phillips has reached base at an acceptable rate (.325 OBP) — while hitting for power too and playing tremendous defense. Phillips has been one of the most accomplished second baseman in the game in nine years as a Red, but he’s getting older and his production is declining. Most troubling is that he may be too stubborn to consider changing his approach or accept any constructive criticism.

In 2014, his .306 OBP was the lowest in his tenure in Cincinnati, all while hitting just eight home runs in 499 plate appearances. In 2013, it was barely better at .310. Our own Ashley Davis recently wrote that it’s time to move Phillips down in the batting order.

"The combination of Phillips getting older and the emergence of younger players such as Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco should result in Phillips moving to the sixth or seventh spot in the batting order in 2015."

It appears time for Phillips to move down in the lineup, but will he accept that role? Is he going to be happy about batting seventh? Is he worth the remaining $39 million that is owed on his contract, which he called a “slap in the face,” to bat seventh in the lineup?

The Reds do have other options. Kristopher Negron is batting .405 with an OBP of .468 with two doubles, two triples, a homer, three RBI and 10 runs scored this spring. In 148 career regular season at-bats, Negron is batting .270 with an OBP of .333. There’s also another capable middle infielder, Eugenio Suarez, who is set to begin the season in Triple-A Louisville.

Fortunately for the Reds, Phillips is still wanted. His overall spring stats aren’t great, but he showed flashes of old self with two doubles and four RBI Friday night. While his trade value is still reasonably high, the Reds should consider trading their star second baseman.

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