Although lightning rods for very different reasons, Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson share similarities in their respective play on the field.
Per Baseball-Reference.com, Robinson posted a 162-game average over his 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which included 111 runs, 178 hits, 16 home runs and 86 RBIs, along with a .311 batting average and 23 stolen bases; Phillips has produced an average of 88 runs, 171 hits, 20 HRs, and 85 RBIs, along with a .272 BA and 19 SBs.
The .988 fielding percentage in 11,581 innings logged at second base by Phillips is slightly better than Robinson’s .983 in just over 4,000 innings at the position. Robinson logged nearly as many innings in combination at third base and left field (3,121) as he did at second, but history will remember Robinson more as a second baseman than anything else — at least on the field.
Ultimately, Robinson will be most remembered for his legacy as a pioneer of the color barrier in baseball, regardless of statistical, and even team, success.
Phillips is recognized for his prolific interactions with Reds fans and his contributions to the Reds’ team for which he has played more games (1,200) at second base than any other Reds’ player in franchise history since the beginning of the 20th century. His dazzling play at second base will leave behind a highlight reel perhaps unlike any other player has produced at his position, including Robinson.
Outside of Cincinnati, Phillips will be remembered for his spectacular fielding, but will most likely forever be linked to his verbal outbursts in print and on camera regarding the St. Louis Cardinals, Reds’ ownership over his contract extension, and a Reds beat writer over criticism about on-base percentage.
Phillips may still boost his own legacy on the field if he can help guide the Reds to more significant postseason success than the team has had during his time in Cincinnati.