Best Cincinnati Reds Ever: Brandon Phillips v. Pokey Reese


First Round Matchup No. 3 Brandon Phillips v. No. 14 Pokey Reese


After spending his first 135 Major League games with the Cleveland Indians, Brandon Phillips was all but given away to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a player to be named later which was eventually Jeff Stevens. Now for the past decade the slick-fielding Phillips has been a mainstay at second base for the Reds.

He has filled the top-of-the-order role, he has hit cleanup as the primary run producer, and he brings the best defense at second base day-in and day-out. Phillips has hit .300, produced a 30-30 season, drove in 100 runs, won Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards. He has been an All-Star and garnered MVP votes, and if not for Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, he’d be the best second baseman in Reds history. Still, he’s at least in the conversation.

Phillips’ best season came in 2007 when he hit 30 home runs, drove in 94 runs, stole 32 bases (in 40 tries), scored 107 runs and hit .288 in a career-best 158 games. He received MVP votes, established himself as one the game’s best second basemen at the time and put all of the tools he showed in Cleveland to work at Great American Ball Park.

More from Blog Red Machine

For his career Phillips has produced 181 home runs, 183 stolen bases, drove in 794 RBIs, while hitting .278. His 1,635 hits in a Reds uniform places him 10th all time, while he also ranks 10th in doubles (282) and 12th in RBIs. He has won four Gold Gloves, and a case could be made for two more in 2007 and ’09, but instead Orlando Hudson won the award both years playing on 90- and 95-win teams, while Phillips suffered through 72- and 78-win teams. And Phillips has been a finalist for the award the past two seasons despite not winning.

Still active, Phillips isn’t in the Reds Hall of Fame yet, but he will without a doubt be inducted sooner after he retires — and a few breaks his way and he could have a chance at baseball’s Hall of Fame. A couple more Gold Gloves would have helped, but his play has spoke for itself.


A 1991 first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds out of Lower Richland High School in South Carolin, Pokey Reese promptly landed on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list for the next five years. Arguments could be made against Reese for not overwhelming in his minor league action, but always noticeably young for his level, he certainly did not underwhelm.

In 1997 as a 24 year old Reese got the call to Cincinnati in which he played 128 games. His numbers never jumped off the page at you as he sported a .219 average and just 19 extra base hits, but he did steal 25 bases. He only played 59 games the following year, but his final three years with the Reds are when he left his mark on Cincinnati.

In those three seasons Reese averaged 139 games, more than 10 home runs, almost 26 doubles, and more than 30 steals at an 87 percent success rate. He added back-to-back Gold Gloves and a career-high .285 average in 1999. He was Barry Larkin‘s double=play partner for those first two seasons including a 96-win season in ’99, before taking over at shortstop in his last season with the Reds.

Reese played three additional seasons elsewhere before retiring after his age 31 season in which he contributed to the Boston Red Sox’s World Series title. He never played in the postseason with the Reds, but did produce 94 doubles and 120 steals in his 604 regular season games with Cincinnati.

Ultimately, Reese’s most respectable attributes were his Gold Glove defense at second base, his efficiency stealing bases and his everyday hustle and hard play that teammates respected. And Reese had been so good early in his career — with a chance to be even better — that the Reds refused to deal him to acquire Ken Griffey Jr. Obviously the Reds still made the deal happen, but Reese stayed in Cincinnati. But his fall from grace did not feature a soft landing, but his short stint with the Reds produced a legacy nonetheless.

Next: Find the full bracket here!

You can find the Twitter poll at @blogredmachine. Sign up for Twitter and give us a follow if you have yet to do so!