As the seasons progress, Brandon Phillips just continues to show why he’s one of the top candidates for National League MVP. During Wednesday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Phillips became the first second basemen in Cincinnati Red’s history to knock in 100 runs since Joe Morgan.
Morgan hit 111 RBIs in 1976, sky rocketing him to the top of NL MVP voting. The Reds’ contemporary middle infielder is set to pass Morgan if he continues hitting in runners at this rate.
Phillips accomplished his newest feat by delivering a ball, thrown by right-handed rookie Shelby Miller, to a lucky fan in the left field stands via a towering home run.
Looking at his stats from this season, Phillips doesn’t look like he’d be in any contention for NL MVP due to a low .267 batting average. In fact, I found myself wondering how a guy hitting .267 with only 18 home runs even gets 100 RBIs. I decided to look at Phillips’ clutch stats and they are alarming.
With runners in scoring position, Phillips’ BA jumps almost .90 points; he’s hitting .349/.411/.493 with RISP and .317/.371/.465 with runners on. These numbers aren’t flukes either, both slash lines were developed over 176 and 309 at-bats respectively.
For some reason, it seems Phillips just can’t hit when no one is on base. With two outs and no runners on, he’s hitting .149 over 50 at-bats, but with two outs and a man on first he’s hitting .309 over 58 at-bats; with a man on second, he’s hitting .400.
I can’t really explain it; the guy loves RBI’s. Judging by his numbers this season, he’d be an awful lead off man but who cares, the guy hits in runs.
You have to give some of the credit for Phillips’ achievement to Reds’ leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo. Choo has an outstanding .417 on-base percentage this season; the fourth highest in the majors, and is second only to Reds first basemen Joey Votto in the NL.
So we’ve established that while Phillips is extremely clutch, his numbers in general are merely decent, and a lot of the reasons he has so many RBIs is because he hits behind and on-base machine, so how could Phillips win MVP?
Well it’s simple really; he’s one of the best defensive second basemen in the game. Phillips has more innings played at second this year than any player in the NL and is second to only Chicago Cubs‘ Darwin Barney in UZR. The guy is a wizard, always making stylish plays and it seems like he’s on top plays darn near every week.
So if you consider his defensive prowess on top of his batting, Phillips becomes a much more viable option for NL MVP. It’s probably a bit of a long shot with guys like Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Paul Goldschmidt having career years but with a month left in the season, there’s plenty of time for Phillips to make his case.