Shocked. Stunned. Apoplectic. Choose the adjective you would like and color me that when I heard that Tony La Russa had chosen to go with Jose Altuve (Houston Astros) over Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati Reds) as the reserve second baseman for the National League. What a travesty for Phillips and the National League.
I argued last week that Phillips deserved to be the starter for the All-Stars over Dan Uggla. I made a convincing, nay, undeniable argument for that case. It never dawned on me that La Russa wouldn’t choose Phillips as the reserve player.
Let’s let some emperical data support the ludicrosity (my word) of taking Altuve over Brandon Phillips.
Batting average – Altuve has the upper hand here when compared to Phillips. Altuve is more of a singles guy and, consequently, he has a better average .308 to .288. So in this category, advantage Altuve
Home run – This is a no brainer. Brandon Phillips has 10 home runs. Altuve….5. Advantage – Phillips. Full disclosure here, Phillips is the #4 guy for the Reds. However, keep in mind he was the lead-off hitter coming into the season, so he is not a power hitter.
Doubles – Altuve has the advantage here with 18 over Phillips’ 11.
Steals – Again Altuve has the upper hand 12 to 4. To be fair here, Phillips is the clean-up hitter, so he doesn’t run that often.
Slugging Percentage – Brandon Phillips has the clear advantage here .446 to .357.
On base percentage – Again we find Phillips leading here .330 to .297. Altuve’s OBP is actually lower than his batting average. That is an unusual stat.
Strike outs – This one is sort of a wash with Altuve striking out 41 times and Phillips whiffing 34 times. Still, advantage Phillips.
RBI – Again, no brainer. Brandon Phillips has 46, double that of Altuve with 23.
Finally, and if this doesn’t cement it for Brandon Phillips I don’t know what does, fielding. No one – NO ONE – in either league can hold a candle to Phillips in the field. The Gold Glove winner sports a fielding percentage of .994 with 2 errors compared to Altuve’s .977 with 8 errors. When you add in the eye test and watch the remarkable plays that Phillips makes EVERY single game, big (huge) advantage Brandon Phillips.
Now I know that Jose Altuve is having a great year so far. I know you have to pick someone from the Astros to play; however if the game is important you want your best out there playing. Brandon Phillips is the best.
Conspiracy theorists, Dusty Baker being one of them, are saying it is because of the fight Phillips started against La Russa’s team a few years back. I don’t know. Maybe. All I can say is that Brandon Phillips deserves to be on that All-Star team. Period.