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October 22, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Brandon Phillips' Gradually Sudden Decline

by Craig Goldstein


“Next year” is a common refrain these days, especially amongst fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers, though in reality, they’re just now joining the vast majority of fans in looking forward instead of at the here and now. There’s been plenty of coverage of the playoffs as their happening, recaps and previews dissecting the games and the decisions made therein. There’s even been the odd offseason splash with Jose Dariel Abreu signing with the White Sox, Alexander Guerrero’s expected signing with the Dodgers (third time’s the charm), and the inspiration for today’s article: Brandon Phillips’ placement on the trade block.

While he’s not the biggest name on said block (David Price), he might be the most likely to be moved given that it won’t require a king’s ransom in prospects to acquire him and the Reds may even be willing to eat some of the contract. The issue of course is what any team acquiring Brandon Phillips would actually be receiving. It’s likely at this point you’ve read about his overall decline in offense these past two seasons. It’s also likely that you know he’s a plus with the glove and that he’s what Vin Scully would call a “big butter and egg man” (he drives runners in). One of the pleasures I get in writing for BP is that it’s also likely that you (this specific audience) also know that RBI is a context-dependent statistic and that Phillips’ high totals in that category are inflated because he gets to hit behind two of the better on-base men in the business: Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto.

So keeping in mind that any acquiring team (and thus us, as fantasy owners) will not automatically be acquiring RBI if and when they trade for Phillips, I thought it might be of interest to look at what else these teams wouldn’t be receiving.

The first thing that comes to mind is: home runs. That might surprise, since Phillips has been one of the more consistent performers when it comes to blasting bombs, producing 18 each of the last four seasons and no less than 17 when he receives a full slate of at-bats. Those numbers of course were aided by playing in Great American Ball Park (GABP), one of the more hitting-conducive environments in baseball. Even with those benefits, of Phillips’ 18 home runs, a full 50 percent (nine) of them were ranked as “just enoughs” per ESPN’s hittrackeronline.com. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly given that only two of those “just enoughs” were hit at GABP, Phillips averaged a mere 389 feet on his 18 home runs compared to the MLB average of 397 feet*. *Both these figures use Hit Tracker Online’s True Distance

There’s also the matter of Phillips’ power coming almost exclusively to the pull side:

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Related Content:  Cincinnati Reds,  Brandon Phillips

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Advance Scouting Serie... (10/22)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Rev... (10/21)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Ten... (10/24)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: A... (10/22)

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