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March 12, 2014

Pebble Hunting

The Complicated Decline of Brandon Phillips

by Sam Miller


Brandon Phillips is declining. Around 13 years ago, his lung capacity began decreasing, and in another couple decades it will be half what it was when he was 20. He's losing neurons in his brain—up to 10,000 per day. Around the age of 30, his major organs began to lose function, and his muscles began to lose mass. His maximum attainable heart rate is dropping by a beat per year, and his capacity to pump blood is shrinking, too. The first symptoms of mild-moderate cognitive impairment often start around this time, slowing his brain's processing speed and affecting memory and attention.

Also, his slugging and on-base percentages last year were each career-lows (for a full season). He dipped from 3.8 wins in 2012 to 1.6 last year. And so, here’s Brandon Phillips, declining, and now declining to speak to the media who have pointed out his decline. “How the [expletive] am I declining?” he asked. At first blush, this is a pretty good example of what Joe Sheehan identified about baseball players in 2008:

The skills required to be one of the very best baseball players in the world have very little to do with the skills required to evaluate the performance and the value of baseball players.... Baseball players are not selected for their ability to understand the game at a macro level, but their ability to play it on a micro level.

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<< Previous Article
The Art and Science of... (03/12)
<< Previous Column
Pebble Hunting: Billy ... (03/07)
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Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Soundi... (03/14)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 11 of... (03/12)

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