Brandon Phillips, the Gold Glove, All-Star, second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, is starting to find his groove as the clean-up hitter for the Reds this season.
Phillips finished last year and began this year as the lead-off hitter for the Reds. While the end of the 2011 season saw a productive Phillips as the lead-off, the Cincinnati Reds didn’t get the same kind of production from him as the 2012 season began. To make matters worse, Scott Rolen, who was batting clean-up on opening day, went into a horrible funk that eventually led to him being placed on the DL. So out of necessity, Dusty Baker moved the versatile Brandon Phillips to that spot in the order.
Initially, Brandon Phillips struggled as the number four hitter. However, as the season moved from April to May then on to June, he started getting comfortable and heating up. Note that in the month of April, Phillips was batting at a paltry .254 average. In the months of May and June, however, Phillips hit .283 and .314 respectively.
Furthermore, so far during the month of June, Brandon Phillips has scored 13 runs, 27 hits, 4 doubles, 5 homeruns (that doubled his homerun total for the year to 10) and 19 RBI. Consequently, Phillips has raised his batting average to a very respectable .287 overall. This is coming from a career .273 hitter.
Finally and gladly, the change in the order has not affected him in the field at all. As of June 25, Brandon Phillips has only had two errors and is sporting a .993 fielding percentage. That is an amazing number considering the Phillips gets to and makes plays on balls that no one else in the league can. You can count on, at least, one spectacular play from Phillips in every game. Case in point, Phillips’ through the legs bare handed flip to Zack Cozart to start a critical double play against the Cleveland Indians. Those kinds of plays are standard, not exceptions.
The major beneficiary of Brandon Phillips getting comfortable and being productive is, of course, Joey Votto. It is no coincidence that Votto’s numbers have improved along with the production from Phillips.
I say, keep it up.