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Cyclone792
09-08-2007, 01:18 PM
http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070908/SPT05/709080404/1027


Phillips carving name of his own

Column by The Post's Lonnie Wheeler

At this point of Brandon Phillips' career, we wouldn't be talking Joe Morgan at all except that it was Morgan's team record for home runs as a second baseman that Phillips just broke, with 28; it was Morgan whom he recently joined as the only Reds second basemen to hit 25 homers and steal 25 bases in the same season; and it was Morgan who was voted onto the Rawlings all-time Gold Glove team. And Phillips is a better fielder.

Not to knock Little Joe. Heaven forbid that. The man won five of the traditional Gold Gloves from 1973-77, when he was in the middle of everything for the Big Red Machine, and made all the plays, including the double one. He made that one, in fact, better than Phillips; but that one only. Here's how it goes, otherwise. Range: Phillips. Arm: Phillips. Hands: Phillips. Dazzle: Phillips.

Anyway, this is not heading where it sounds. Morgan's a Hall of Famer, world champion and two-time MVP. Phillips hasn't made the all-star team yet. He's just over a year removed from being designated for assignment by Cleveland and traded to Cincinnati for a player to be named Jeff Stevens. To make comparisons between Phillips and Morgan is actually a little embarrassing.

On the other hand, there is this: Not since Morgan has a Cincinnati second baseman put together the kind of season that Brandon Phillips is having at the age of 26.

To watch Phillips every day is to consider him a Gold Glover. To be Phillips every day is to consider him a Gold Glover. Currently, that distinction belongs to Orlando Hudson of Arizona, whose acrobatics and defensive derring-do are in league with Phillips', and who has the advantage of getting there first.

"In my eyes," says Phillips, "I think I'm a Gold Glover, and I really hope I win it this year. The only person I know who can probably get me defensively is the guy who won a Gold Glove the last two years at second base. The thing is, if a person wins a Gold Glove, it's kind of hard to beat that person the next time.

"O-Dog is my boy. We talk in the offseason. He talked to me and said he thinks I'm better than him. We go back and forth, but he's got the Glove to prove it. But I think I deserve one also."

As far as that goes, Phillips leads the National League in both total chances and fielding percentage, which ought to be an unbeatable combination when weighed along with the countless plays he has made from his belly and knees, and his vertical leap on line drives, and his defensive moments like the one last week against the Pirates, when he barehanded a pop fly on the first hop in right field, heading up the foul line, and pivoted and threw a blind strike to nail the dumbstruck baserunner at home plate and end the game.

And all that from a cleanup hitter. One of the best moves Pete Mackanin made when he took over as interim manager was to install Phillips in the fourth slot, between Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. The surge in production has him on pace to score more than 100 runs this year and possibly drive in three figures. Like, you know, Morgan.

What Morgan never did, however, was hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a summer, for which Phillips now needs two and three. The only second baseman in major-league history to do that is Alfonso Soriano, who was moved to the outfield at age 27. The only middle infielders to do it are Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Larkin. The only Reds are Eric Davis and Larkin.

Not expressly for that reason, Larkin was always Phillips' favorite player. "His style," said the Red.

"He played shortstop, I played shortstop. He was making spectacular plays. He was just a guy who stood out to me. I want to be the Barry Larkin to everybody in Cincinnati. I want to be just like him."

Larkin, of course, was from here. Here, as well, Phillips is happily adapted. And adopted.

"I know this city so much and I love the way everything is run here," said the Atlanta native, who lives in Newport and walks to movies there, and GameWorks. "It's cool. The thing is, people are starting to notice my face now. It's cool. I like to be a part of that."

Unfortunately, he can't hoof it to Kingpin Lanes in Anderson Township, where he bowls with a wide hook and has twice rung up 300 games. Dunn calls him the Tiger Woods of bowling. At Griffey's benefit bowling party the other day, Phillips averaged 199. Then, on a friendly bet, he rolled 153 between his legs.

Not that it matters, but could Morgan do that? Or dunk a basketball, which Phillips did routinely as a high school point guard? His 6-foot-2 sister plays basketball for the University of Georgia. Phillips had an offer to play football there.

By his senior year of high school, however, he had dropped other sports for the one that would become his livelihood. As an admirer of Larkin's, he often thought about making that living in Cincinnati. He still does.

"Like I've said many times," he repeated Friday, "I want to spend the rest of my career here. I wish we would win more. That's the only thing about it. When you look at the young players we have, it may take us till next year or some years down the line to become a winning team, but I want be part of it.

"I just want to do my job and keep a smile on my face and hopefully one day I'm a leader of this team. If I'm that type of person they want to build around. I feel like I'm that type of person. But it's really up to them."

If the Reds had a 26-year-old Joe Morgan playing for them right now in the middle of the infield, surely they would regard him as a player - perhaps the player - to build around. It's a little awkward comparing any young second baseman to Morgan, but ...

Actually, at 26, Morgan was still with Houston. And, well, it's a hard thing to say, but he wasn't as good as Brandon Phillips is today.

Before I take Lonnie Wheeler to task here, let me say that 90 percent of this column is a pretty good read. Brandon Phillips is having himself a very nice season, and he most definitely deserves to be recognized for that. And defensively, Phillips does deserve a serious look at the Gold Glove. Whether he deserves it or not, I'm not really sure, but he does deserve a look.

Is Brandon Phillips a greater defensive second baseman than Joe Morgan? I have no idea, maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Morgan won a bunch of Gold Gloves, but much of the data I've seen suggests he was merely a "good" defensive second baseman rather than a great one. For the sake of simplicity, let's call them a wash ... because if one player was greater than the other defensively, it probably isn't by much.

All that said, I do have a very big problem with a small part of Wheeler's column, specifically when he reaches way over the top with his last paragraph and claims that Brandon Phillips at the age of 26 is a better player than Morgan was at the age of 26.

Sorry, Lonnie, but you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

Through his age 26 season, Joe Morgan had already logged 731 games in a big league uniform in through five full (or nearly full) seasons and small bits of three other seasons. He was playing his home games in the Astrodump, which throughout its history was an excellent pitcher's park that greatly suppressed hitting. And while Morgan didn't possess the home run power that Brandon Phillips is showing, he was still the much superior player.


JOE MORGAN

1963-1970

YEAR TEAM AGE G AB R H 2B 3B HR HR% RBI BB SO SB CS AVG SLG OBA OPS
1963 Astros 19 8 25 5 6 0 1 0 0.00 3 5 5 1 0 .240 .320 .367 .687
1964 Astros 20 10 37 4 7 0 0 0 0.00 0 6 7 0 1 .189 .189 .302 .492
1965 Astros 21 157 601 100 163 22 12 14 2.33 40 97 77 20 9 .271 .418 .373 .791
1966 Astros 22 122 425 60 121 14 8 5 1.18 42 89 43 11 8 .285 .391 .410 .801
1967 Astros 23 133 494 73 136 27 11 6 1.21 42 81 51 29 5 .275 .411 .378 .789
1968 Astros 24 10 20 6 5 0 1 0 0.00 0 7 4 3 0 .250 .350 .444 .794
1969 Astros 25 147 535 94 126 18 5 15 2.80 43 110 74 49 14 .236 .372 .365 .737
1970 Astros 26 144 548 102 147 28 9 8 1.46 52 102 55 42 13 .268 .396 .383 .779
TOTALS 731 2685 444 711 109 47 48 1.79 222 497 316 155 50 .265 .394 .380 .774
LG AVERAGE 2656 333 694 107 21 65 2.46 309 251 415 38 23 .261 .392 .327 .719
POS AVERAGE 2622 315 670 100 20 29 1.10 224 205 290 36 25 .256 .342 .312 .655

YEAR TEAM RC RCAA RCAP OWP RC/G TB EBH ISO SEC BPA IBB HBP SAC SF GIDP OUTS PA POS
1963 Astros 4 1 2 .674 5.68 8 1 .080 .320 .467 0 0 0 0 0 19 30 2B
1964 Astros 2 -3 -2 .168 1.74 7 0 .000 .162 .279 0 0 0 0 0 31 43 2B
1965 Astros 102 36 45 .685 6.01 251 48 .146 .341 .508 1 3 3 4 4 458 708 2B
1966 Astros 76 24 32 .665 6.31 166 27 .106 .341 .499 3 3 9 2 2 325 528 2B
1967 Astros 88 34 43 .704 6.46 203 44 .136 .358 .532 5 2 1 2 2 368 580 2B
1968 Astros 5 3 3 .830 9.00 7 1 .100 .600 .630 0 0 0 0 0 15 27 2B
1969 Astros 86 13 27 .569 5.29 199 38 .136 .434 .523 1 1 7 4 5 439 657 2B
1970 Astros 92 19 37 .598 5.75 217 45 .128 .391 .518 3 1 5 2 11 432 658 2B
TOTALS 455 127 187 .641 5.89 1058 204 .129 .372 .513 13 10 25 14 24 2087 3231
LG AVERAGE 343 0 0 .500 4.44 1041 194 .130 .239 .430 34 18 23 19 59 2087 2968
POS AVERAGE 281 -64 0 .402 3.63 898 150 .087 .179 .375 19 17 36 16 59 2087 2896

On its surface, Morgan's .774 OPS through 1970 (his age 26 season) doesn't look too impressive, but this was an era that much more greatly favored pitching than today, and he was playing half his games in a pitcher's park. Even without an era adjustment, Morgan's .774 OPS is still nearly 50 points higher than Brandon Phillips' .727 lifetime OPS. But back from 1963-1970, the average 2B posted an OPS of .655, and that's considerably lower than the average 2B OPS of ~.755 today. Morgan was dominating his peers at second base (and in the league overall) at a much higher level than Brandon Phillips.

Now let's quickly compare each season by season via win shares and OPS+ ...

Morgan win shares: 30 (1965), 26 (1967), 24 (1970), 24 (1969), 19 (1966) ... plus three total win shares covering 1963, 1964, and 1968.
Phillips win shares: 15 (through Sept. 2, 2007) and 14 (2006) ... he had a combined total of five win shares before joining the Reds.

Morgan OPS+: 132 (1966), 130 (1965), 130 (1967), 113 (1970), 109 (1969)
Phillips OPS+: 106 (2007) and 85 (2006)

Normally I'd also opt to take a look at other historic measures, such as WARP, but it's not necessary because this isn't even close. Brandon Phillips has an outside chance at reaching 20 win shares this season if he has a brilliant September. Last season he had 14 win shares.

Joe Morgan had already posted a 30 win share season, a 26 win share season, and two 24 win share seasons through his age 26 season. He already had posted three seasons with an OPS+ of 130 or higher; Phillips this season only has a 106 OPS+.

Of course, we all know what Joe Morgan ultimately developed into ... which is one of the three greatest second basemen of all-time (and arguably the greatest alongside Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby), the greatest second baseman the game has seen since the Great Depression, and the greatest player in all of baseball in the 1970s. Morgan's MVP seasons of 1975-76 are also two of the greatest single seasons the game has seen in the last 35 years.

While Joe Morgan may oftentimes be a blathering idiot on ESPN nowadays, the fact is he's one of the greatest players in baseball history. Morgan was a very good player early in his career with the Astros, and then he developed into a legend with the Reds. And I'm not trying to take anything away from Brandon Phillips, because he has also been a good player with the Reds this season in 2007.

But as nice as 2007 has been for Brandon Phillips, he still doesn't come remotely close to what Morgan had accomplished through 1970 with the Astros. And for Lonnie Wheeler to suggest that Brandon Phillips at age 26 is a better player than Joe Morgan was by the time he was 26 is sheer lunacy at its finest. All that type of hyperbole is going to do is ramp up expectations for Brandon Phillips to become the next Joe Morgan, and when that doesn't happen (and it's not going to happen), then some people are just going to be disappointed with Brandon Phillips when instead they should be thrilled with the actual contributions he's making to the Reds out at second base.

Brandon Phillips has developed into a pretty nice player for the Reds, and he already has Joe Morgan's single season franchise record for home runs by a second baseman.

But Brandon Phillips isn't Joe Morgan, and he'll never be Joe Morgan.

OnBaseMachine
09-08-2007, 01:33 PM
Great post, cyclone.

I also enjoyed reading Lonnie Wheeler's article and I also thought it was pretty ridiculous that he says Brandon Phillips is better than Joe Morgan was at this point in their careers. I am a huge Brandon Phillips fan but as your post indicates, Phillips is no Joe Morgan. Phillips severly lacks the plate discipline that Joe Morgan did. Morgan walked over 100+ times in a season eight times compared to Phillips who has walked roughly 65 times in the last two seasons combined. But with that said, Brandon Phillips is having a huge season for the Reds. He's on pace to become only the second 2B ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. That, along with his defense is enough for me to hope that the Reds can sign him to a long-term contract down the road.

redsmetz
09-08-2007, 01:35 PM
I'm not sure I'm going to quibble with you given that Wheeler tossed out a bunch of caveats left and right at the temerity of comparing Phillips and Morgan, I will say that I'm glad to see him pushing Phillips. I think we've got to continually keep some of these players on the radar so they can receive the recognition that is due them.

pahster
09-08-2007, 01:39 PM
Outstanding post. I was thinking much the same when I read Wheeler's column.

Cyclone792
09-08-2007, 01:48 PM
I'm not sure I'm going to quibble with you given that Wheeler tossed out a bunch of caveats left and right at the temerity of comparing Phillips and Morgan, I will say that I'm glad to see him pushing Phillips. I think we've got to continually keep some of these players on the radar so they can receive the recognition that is due them.

He did throw a bunch of caveats out there, but nothing could hide the fact that he claimed Phillips at the age of 26 is a better player than Morgan was.

Actually, this is all related to a much bigger problem with the local Cincy media. A player such as Adam Dunn regularly gets crapped all over by some of the idiots in the Cincy media. A guy like Aaron Harang is largely ignored by some (or all, at least last season) of the idiots in the Cincy media. But a guy like Phillips is being pumped up to something he isn't by a member of the Cincy media.

What would really be nice for a change is if the members of the Cincy media viewed each Reds player as accurately and objectively as possible, and if that happened then I'm betting casual Reds fans would have a much better take on some of the youth and outstanding players the Reds have (imagine that, I'm asking the media to be objective!).

The media shouldn't be crapping on one guy, ignoring a second guy, and pumping a third guy up into something he isn't. View each player for what they actually are ... not for what they aren't.

For the record, I'd love to see Brandon Phillips roam in the Reds' middle infield for the next half dozen seasons if he keeps doing what he's been doing. But he doesn't need to be the second coming of Joe Morgan for me to want to see that, and he doesn't have to be anything near like Joe Morgan for me to want to see that.

RedsManRick
09-08-2007, 04:06 PM
At a very basic level, the fact that we have to tell ourselves not to compare the two yet is a great compliment to Phillips.

RedsBaron
09-08-2007, 04:11 PM
Under the Stats Neutralizer on Baseball Reference.com, based on a 715 average runs per team context, Joe Morgan's revised 1976 statistics give him 29 HRs along with 121 RBI, 121 walks, a .333 average, a .459 OBP and a .601 SLG. The Stats Neutralizer shows Brandon Phillips's season thus far as being 24 HRs, 91 RBI, 24 walks, a .268 average, .309 OBP and .459 SLG.
Phillips is having a terrific season, but he is far from the second coming of Joe Morgan.

Spitball
09-08-2007, 06:02 PM
Phillips is having a terrific season, but he is far from the second coming of Joe Morgan.

I agree, but it would be interesting to see the measure on Phillips if he were to be a component on a team with players as dynamic as Bench, Rose, Perez, Foster, Senior, Concepcion and Geronimo.

fearofpopvol1
09-08-2007, 07:14 PM
At a very basic level, the fact that we have to tell ourselves not to compare the two yet is a great compliment to Phillips.

That's a great observation and I agree.


"Like I've said many times," he repeated Friday, "I want to spend the rest of my career here. I wish we would win more. That's the only thing about it. When you look at the young players we have, it may take us till next year or some years down the line to become a winning team, but I want be part of it.


When is the last time a player of Brandon's caliber has said something like this about the Reds or been that outspoken about it? I think it's great and given that Dunn is probably leaving town within the next year, I think the Reds really should be building around him. He's becoming a leader, he plays great on both sides of the ball and the guy is electric. Some may disagree, but I think he's the funnest player on the team to watch. His smile could light up a room. I love the guy.

Mainspark
09-08-2007, 11:24 PM
I couldn't be more delighted at Brandon Phillips' progress since joining the Reds and I hope there are MVP awards (and post-season appearances) in his future.
That said, Joe Morgan circa 1973-1977 was, all things considered, the best major leaguer I ever saw play. In a lineup stacked with Hall of Famers and all-stars, it seemed like he made a critical contribution in some fashion nearly every game.
Ex-Red Tracy Jones, in his post-game talk show a few days ago, nearly suggested that Phillips was so far superior to Morgan that they shouldn't even be compared.
He said, among other things, that Morgan had a weak arm. I believe his throwing ability was mentioned as a reason why he wasn't developed as a shortstop, but I don't recall it being a factor in his play at second, at least in his years as a Red.
Jones also failed to note that offensive statistics from today and those from 30 years ago can't be fairly compared without qualifications.

RedsBaron
09-09-2007, 05:42 AM
I couldn't be more delighted at Brandon Phillips' progress since joining the Reds and I hope there are MVP awards (and post-season appearances) in his future.
That said, Joe Morgan circa 1973-1977 was, all things considered, the best major leaguer I ever saw play. In a lineup stacked with Hall of Famers and all-stars, it seemed like he made a critical contribution in some fashion nearly every game.
Ex-Red Tracy Jones, in his post-game talk show a few days ago, nearly suggested that Phillips was so far superior to Morgan that they shouldn't even be compared.
He said, among other things, that Morgan had a weak arm. I believe his throwing ability was mentioned as a reason why he wasn't developed as a shortstop, but I don't recall it being a factor in his play at second, at least in his years as a Red.
Jones also failed to note that offensive statistics from today and those from 30 years ago can't be fairly compared without qualifications.
You're forgetting that Tracy Jones "played the game," a fact that Jones himself is too modest to ever mention. ;)
Joe Morgan did have a weak arm, although that didn't keep him from earning numerous Gold Gloves.
Jones is too stupid to understand that offensive statistics from 30 years ago cannot be directly compared with statistics today without qualifications and analysis. One thing that struck me when I used the Stats Neutralizer to compare Morgan's 1976 season with Phillips's current season was .459--that was the adjusted on base percentage of Morgan in 1976 and Phillips's adjusted slugging percentage in 2007. When one player has an on base perecentage as high as another player's slugging percentage, the notion of the two players being equal is silly.

GAC
09-09-2007, 09:59 AM
Is Brandon Phillips a greater defensive second baseman than Joe Morgan? I have no idea, maybe he is, maybe he isn't.

He's young and the potential is obviously there. Young ballplayers, as they come along, are always gettting compared to greats. Who was Morgan ever compared to when he hit his prime?


Morgan won a bunch of Gold Gloves, but much of the data I've seen suggests he was merely a "good" defensive second baseman rather than a great one.

Anymore, I think the GG award itself is a joke. Joe was a good defensive 2Bman. But the award is suppose to be about defense, and it seems somehow that you had better put up solid offensive numbers too (which Joe did) to be in consideration.

I think Phillips has better range and athletic ability then Joe. Now whether that will prove to make him a better defensive 2Bman then Joe, that I don't know.


All that type of hyperbole is going to do is ramp up expectations for Brandon Phillips to become the next Joe Morgan, and when that doesn't happen (and it's not going to happen), then some people are just going to be disappointed with Brandon Phillips when instead they should be thrilled with the actual contributions he's making to the Reds out at second base.

Brandon Phillips has developed into a pretty nice player for the Reds, and he already has Joe Morgan's single season franchise record for home runs by a second baseman.

But Brandon Phillips isn't Joe Morgan, and he'll never be Joe Morgan.

I have no idea if Phillips will/will not be as good a 2Bman as Morgan. But I really don't think you're being fair to Phillips at all in this comparison. It's too small of a window on Phillips to be speaking with certainty that he'll never be a "Joe Morgan".


Jones is too stupid to understand that offensive statistics from 30 years ago cannot be directly compared with statistics today without qualifications and analysis.

Exactly. That is what I am trying to say. It's really hard, IMHO, to get a reliable "feel" when comparing ballplayers from different era's.

Concepcion had a career .322 OB% .357 SLG% .679 OPS

In today's game most wouldn't have him starting, or want him on their team. ;)

Wheelhouse
09-09-2007, 11:28 AM
http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070908/SPT05/709080404/1027



Before I take Lonnie Wheeler to task here, let me say that 90 percent of this column is a pretty good read. Brandon Phillips is having himself a very nice season, and he most definitely deserves to be recognized for that. And defensively, Phillips does deserve a serious look at the Gold Glove. Whether he deserves it or not, I'm not really sure, but he does deserve a look.

Is Brandon Phillips a greater defensive second baseman than Joe Morgan? I have no idea, maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Morgan won a bunch of Gold Gloves, but much of the data I've seen suggests he was merely a "good" defensive second baseman rather than a great one. For the sake of simplicity, let's call them a wash ... because if one player was greater than the other defensively, it probably isn't by much.

All that said, I do have a very big problem with a small part of Wheeler's column, specifically when he reaches way over the top with his last paragraph and claims that Brandon Phillips at the age of 26 is a better player than Morgan was at the age of 26.

Sorry, Lonnie, but you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

Through his age 26 season, Joe Morgan had already logged 731 games in a big league uniform in through five full (or nearly full) seasons and small bits of three other seasons. He was playing his home games in the Astrodump, which throughout its history was an excellent pitcher's park that greatly suppressed hitting. And while Morgan didn't possess the home run power that Brandon Phillips is showing, he was still the much superior player.


JOE MORGAN

1963-1970

YEAR TEAM AGE G AB R H 2B 3B HR HR% RBI BB SO SB CS AVG SLG OBA OPS
1963 Astros 19 8 25 5 6 0 1 0 0.00 3 5 5 1 0 .240 .320 .367 .687
1964 Astros 20 10 37 4 7 0 0 0 0.00 0 6 7 0 1 .189 .189 .302 .492
1965 Astros 21 157 601 100 163 22 12 14 2.33 40 97 77 20 9 .271 .418 .373 .791
1966 Astros 22 122 425 60 121 14 8 5 1.18 42 89 43 11 8 .285 .391 .410 .801
1967 Astros 23 133 494 73 136 27 11 6 1.21 42 81 51 29 5 .275 .411 .378 .789
1968 Astros 24 10 20 6 5 0 1 0 0.00 0 7 4 3 0 .250 .350 .444 .794
1969 Astros 25 147 535 94 126 18 5 15 2.80 43 110 74 49 14 .236 .372 .365 .737
1970 Astros 26 144 548 102 147 28 9 8 1.46 52 102 55 42 13 .268 .396 .383 .779
TOTALS 731 2685 444 711 109 47 48 1.79 222 497 316 155 50 .265 .394 .380 .774
LG AVERAGE 2656 333 694 107 21 65 2.46 309 251 415 38 23 .261 .392 .327 .719
POS AVERAGE 2622 315 670 100 20 29 1.10 224 205 290 36 25 .256 .342 .312 .655

YEAR TEAM RC RCAA RCAP OWP RC/G TB EBH ISO SEC BPA IBB HBP SAC SF GIDP OUTS PA POS
1963 Astros 4 1 2 .674 5.68 8 1 .080 .320 .467 0 0 0 0 0 19 30 2B
1964 Astros 2 -3 -2 .168 1.74 7 0 .000 .162 .279 0 0 0 0 0 31 43 2B
1965 Astros 102 36 45 .685 6.01 251 48 .146 .341 .508 1 3 3 4 4 458 708 2B
1966 Astros 76 24 32 .665 6.31 166 27 .106 .341 .499 3 3 9 2 2 325 528 2B
1967 Astros 88 34 43 .704 6.46 203 44 .136 .358 .532 5 2 1 2 2 368 580 2B
1968 Astros 5 3 3 .830 9.00 7 1 .100 .600 .630 0 0 0 0 0 15 27 2B
1969 Astros 86 13 27 .569 5.29 199 38 .136 .434 .523 1 1 7 4 5 439 657 2B
1970 Astros 92 19 37 .598 5.75 217 45 .128 .391 .518 3 1 5 2 11 432 658 2B
TOTALS 455 127 187 .641 5.89 1058 204 .129 .372 .513 13 10 25 14 24 2087 3231
LG AVERAGE 343 0 0 .500 4.44 1041 194 .130 .239 .430 34 18 23 19 59 2087 2968
POS AVERAGE 281 -64 0 .402 3.63 898 150 .087 .179 .375 19 17 36 16 59 2087 2896

On its surface, Morgan's .774 OPS through 1970 (his age 26 season) doesn't look too impressive, but this was an era that much more greatly favored pitching than today, and he was playing half his games in a pitcher's park. Even without an era adjustment, Morgan's .774 OPS is still nearly 50 points higher than Brandon Phillips' .727 lifetime OPS. But back from 1963-1970, the average 2B posted an OPS of .655, and that's considerably lower than the average 2B OPS of ~.755 today. Morgan was dominating his peers at second base (and in the league overall) at a much higher level than Brandon Phillips.

Now let's quickly compare each season by season via win shares and OPS+ ...

Morgan win shares: 30 (1965), 26 (1967), 24 (1970), 24 (1969), 19 (1966) ... plus three total win shares covering 1963, 1964, and 1968.
Phillips win shares: 15 (through Sept. 2, 2007) and 14 (2006) ... he had a combined total of five win shares before joining the Reds.

Morgan OPS+: 132 (1966), 130 (1965), 130 (1967), 113 (1970), 109 (1969)
Phillips OPS+: 106 (2007) and 85 (2006)

Normally I'd also opt to take a look at other historic measures, such as WARP, but it's not necessary because this isn't even close. Brandon Phillips has an outside chance at reaching 20 win shares this season if he has a brilliant September. Last season he had 14 win shares.

Joe Morgan had already posted a 30 win share season, a 26 win share season, and two 24 win share seasons through his age 26 season. He already had posted three seasons with an OPS+ of 130 or higher; Phillips this season only has a 106 OPS+.

Of course, we all know what Joe Morgan ultimately developed into ... which is one of the three greatest second basemen of all-time (and arguably the greatest alongside Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby), the greatest second baseman the game has seen since the Great Depression, and the greatest player in all of baseball in the 1970s. Morgan's MVP seasons of 1975-76 are also two of the greatest single seasons the game has seen in the last 35 years.

While Joe Morgan may oftentimes be a blathering idiot on ESPN nowadays, the fact is he's one of the greatest players in baseball history. Morgan was a very good player early in his career with the Astros, and then he developed into a legend with the Reds. And I'm not trying to take anything away from Brandon Phillips, because he has also been a good player with the Reds this season in 2007.

But as nice as 2007 has been for Brandon Phillips, he still doesn't come remotely close to what Morgan had accomplished through 1970 with the Astros. And for Lonnie Wheeler to suggest that Brandon Phillips at age 26 is a better player than Joe Morgan was by the time he was 26 is sheer lunacy at its finest. All that type of hyperbole is going to do is ramp up expectations for Brandon Phillips to become the next Joe Morgan, and when that doesn't happen (and it's not going to happen), then some people are just going to be disappointed with Brandon Phillips when instead they should be thrilled with the actual contributions he's making to the Reds out at second base.

Brandon Phillips has developed into a pretty nice player for the Reds, and he already has Joe Morgan's single season franchise record for home runs by a second baseman.

But Brandon Phillips isn't Joe Morgan, and he'll never be Joe Morgan.

Great post, but the last sentence makes no sense. How do you know? Does he lack the athletic ability? I don't think so. And he's only 26. The possibility exists that he could eclipse Morgan.

wheels
09-09-2007, 11:37 AM
Saying Phillips will never be Joe Morgan isn't as much a knock on Phillips as it is a testament to Joe Morgan.

I do have a feeling that Phillips will learn a bit more plate discipline in the coming years. If he can do that, he'll truly be an elite second baseman. Thing is, he'd have to walk 100 times a year while keeping his other performance levels steady in order to be on par with Joe Morgan.

Joe Morgan was special, Brandon Phillips is really good.

Cyclone792
09-09-2007, 11:40 AM
I have no idea if Phillips will/will not be as good a 2Bman as Morgan. But I really don't think you're being fair to Phillips at all in this comparison. It's too small of a window on Phillips to be speaking with certainty that he'll never be a "Joe Morgan".


Great post, but the last sentence makes no sense. How do you know? Does he lack the athletic ability? I don't think so. And he's only 26. The possibility exists that he could eclipse Morgan.

Athletic ability has nothing to do with it.

Morgan PA/Outs Career: 1.58
Phillips PA/Outs Career: 1.35

Morgan's relative OBP: 1.20
Phillips' relative OBP: 0.88

Avoiding outs has a great deal to do with it. Phillips is an out-making machine, whereas Morgan was one of the greatest second basemen of all-time at avoiding outs.

SteelSD
09-09-2007, 12:45 PM
Athletic ability has nothing to do with it.

Morgan PA/Outs Career: 1.58
Phillips PA/Outs Career: 1.35

Morgan's relative OBP: 1.20
Phillips' relative OBP: 0.88

Avoiding outs has a great deal to do with it. Phillips is an out-making machine, whereas Morgan was one of the greatest second basemen of all-time at avoiding outs.

Yep. Basically, to eclipse Joe Morgan, Brandon Phillips would first have to be as good as Chase Utley offensively. Then he'd have to get better from there. The probability of two such evolutionary leaps for a guy with Phillips' propensity to make Outs is pretty much nil.

jojo
09-09-2007, 02:01 PM
Really, when considering offense and defense, Phillips isn't even a first tier major league second baseman among his peers. He's looking up at guys like Utley, Roberts and Polanco who are better both offensively and defensively. Morgan WAS second for a generation and probably all time.

Wheelhouse
09-09-2007, 02:03 PM
Athletic ability has nothing to do with it.

Morgan PA/Outs Career: 1.58
Phillips PA/Outs Career: 1.35

Morgan's relative OBP: 1.20
Phillips' relative OBP: 0.88

Avoiding outs has a great deal to do with it. Phillips is an out-making machine, whereas Morgan was one of the greatest second basemen of all-time at avoiding outs.

I'm not talking about Phillips' career to date. I think the post is solid. I was referring to the final statement that Phillips will NEVER be Joe Morgan. We're talking about a 26 year-old player here. If he were 28, I could live with the hyperbole. Phillips is not defined as a player yet. I know you guys love your stats, but hold your horses--the player has not matured enough to responsibly claim a career trend.

Highlifeman21
09-09-2007, 02:31 PM
I'm not talking about Phillips' career to date. I think the post is solid. I was referring to the final statement that Phillips will NEVER be Joe Morgan. We're talking about a 26 year-old player here. If he were 28, I could live with the hyperbole. Phillips is not defined as a player yet. I know you guys love your stats, but hold your horses--the player has not matured enough to responsibly claim a career trend.

Phillips could continue to improve.

Phillips could return to his career norm prior to 2006.

Which Phillips will we see by the time he reaches 28?

I have a very hard time thinking he will continue to improve, based on his propensity to swing in a Vlad Guerrero type manner, without Vlad Guerrero type results and production.

Phillips makes outs. And lots of 'em.




He's not Morgan. He'll never be Morgan.




We can safely make that statement.

jojo
09-09-2007, 02:53 PM
I'm not talking about Phillips' career to date. I think the post is solid. I was referring to the final statement that Phillips will NEVER be Joe Morgan. We're talking about a 26 year-old player here. If he were 28, I could live with the hyperbole. Phillips is not defined as a player yet. I know you guys love your stats, but hold your horses--the player has not matured enough to responsibly claim a career trend.

I don't think this is necesarily a fair blanket statement either. Phillips is basically at his peak age for defense. PBP metrics have pegged him as slightly above league average defensively. Concerning his bat, no projection system predicted his spike in SLG this season but then again it's his split against lefties that is primarily responsible for his OPS beating the projections. Phillips has always had a platoon split but this is the first time he has OPS'd over 1 against lefties in his career. So do the projection systems need to learn something new about Phillips or is he riding some nice randomness?

Probably the projection systems need to adjust a little to be more optimistic but I'm not seeing a ton of untapped room for Phillips to grow. This is especially so since his peripherals really don't reveal a player that is changing his approach at the plate. For instance, there really aren't any big differences in his '06 and '07 K%, BB%, LD%, FB%, GB/FB, P/PA etc.

The most glaring difference between '06 and '07? He's turning more fly balls against lefties into home runs. I'm not convinced this is reflective of a sustainable skill for him.

Wheelhouse
09-09-2007, 03:34 PM
Phillips could continue to improve.

Phillips could return to his career norm prior to 2006.

Which Phillips will we see by the time he reaches 28?

I have a very hard time thinking he will continue to improve, based on his propensity to swing in a Vlad Guerrero type manner, without Vlad Guerrero type results and production.

Phillips makes outs. And lots of 'em.




He's not Morgan. He'll never be Morgan.




We can safely make that statement.

Wrong. Look at Morgan's stats to age 26. Foolish post.

At 26, you couldn't say JOE MORGAN was going to be Joe Morgan, let alone assess that Brandon Phillips will not have a career on par with Morgan's. Too early to tell.

Patrick Bateman
09-09-2007, 03:52 PM
Morgan showed very good on base skills early in his career. So I think there was some room to project him becoming the player he was. Obviously the odds are stacked against anyone becoming that good, but Morgan didn't become an on base machine over night.

Phillips is making virtually no progress in that department which leads me to strongly believe that he'll be lucky to have just an adequate on base %. His power has been great, and that's an area where he could potentially compete with Morgan. But Phillips needs a complete overhaul in his plate approach to be a Morgan, and that's something that IMO Phillips would be incapable of. He simply doesn't have the patient skill set neccessary.

I'm happy with what Phillips is, but I don't see any reason why he should be compared to Morgan. They are 2 extremely different hitters.

pedro
09-09-2007, 03:53 PM
Wrong. Look at Morgan's stats to age 26. Foolish post.

At 26, you couldn't say JOE MORGAN was going to be Joe Morgan, let alone assess that Brandon Phillips will not have a career on par with Morgan's. Too early to tell.

Sure you can. It's called context. Morgan's first 6 years in the league were in an extreme pitcher's park in an extreme pitcher's era. Phillip's OTOH, while being a very nice player, is putting up his numbers in an extreme hitter's park in an extreme hitter's era.

Wheelhouse
09-09-2007, 04:37 PM
Sure you can. It's called context. Morgan's first 6 years in the league were in an extreme pitcher's park in an extreme pitcher's era. Phillip's OTOH, while being a very nice player, is putting up his numbers in an extreme hitter's park in an extreme hitter's era.

Whew. You're able to make some pretty big claims with your "context"--so you could have forseen in 1969 that Joe Morgan was going to be one of the greatest second basemen in history? Man, this statistical analysis gets more amazing every day...

RANDY IN INDY
09-09-2007, 04:49 PM
When Morgan was traded for after the 1971 season, I don't recall many folks being that happy with the trade, much less saying or projecting that it was a slam dunk, based on Morgan's past performance. Bob Howsam showed some real foresight in trading for Morgan and Geronimo. I remember Sparky being quite happy as well. Losing May and Helms was not, at all, popular at the time. The rest, as they say, is history.

pedro
09-09-2007, 05:51 PM
Whew. You're able to make some pretty big claims with your "context"--so you could have forseen in 1969 that Joe Morgan was going to be one of the greatest second basemen in history? Man, this statistical analysis gets more amazing every day...

You're completely missing the point.

Seriously, do you even know what "context" means?

jojo
09-09-2007, 06:17 PM
Whew. You're able to make some pretty big claims with your "context"--so you could have forseen in 1969 that Joe Morgan was going to be one of the greatest second basemen in history? Man, this statistical analysis gets more amazing every day...

Tools and a solid body of research are available now-that weren't available in 1969-which allow players to be projected to extents much greater than in the past. Statheads would've loved Morgan in 1969.

Ignoring projection systems etc for a minute, just compare the performance of Phillips and Morgan during their first few full seasons in a neutral context (using BBR as Redsbaron did earlier in this thread):

Brandon Phillips: (2006-2007)
Age 25: .258/.304/.403 OPS: .707
Age 26: .266/.308/.456 OPS: .764

Joe Morgan : (1965-1967)
Age 21: .290/.395/.444 OPS: .839
Age 22: .304/.433/.415 OPS: .848
Age 23: .297/.403/.444 OPS: .847

Joe Morgan was a far superior offensive player at a much younger age than Brandon Phillips. In the above context, Phillips has yet to even come close to equaling Morgan's production level that he achieved during Morgan's first full season (1965). Steel was right. If you want to discuss modern second basemen in the context of Joe Morgan, you need to look to a player with numbers like Chase Utley and even then Utley didn't start looking like Morgan until a significantly older age. If Utley looks awesome now, surely a pre-1969 Morgan looked awesome too.

SteelSD
09-09-2007, 06:23 PM
Wrong. Look at Morgan's stats to age 26. Foolish post.

At 26, you couldn't say JOE MORGAN was going to be Joe Morgan, let alone assess that Brandon Phillips will not have a career on par with Morgan's. Too early to tell.

I don't think you really understand the significance of the numbers Morgan posted prior to joining the Reds.

By age 26, Joe Morgan had already put up an Adjusted OPS+ of 130 or higher with an Isolated Discipline well over .100 and a .410 OBP season under his belt. That kind of IsoD is a Big Deal and it's something Phillips has never had. The chance that Phillips will suddenly increase his walk rate enough to garner 80 to 100 more Walks per season is so remote that it doesn't even register on the probability scale. Morgan's lowest OPS+ prior to joining the Reds was 109 or higher. If Brandon Phillips' season ended today, his 2007 OPS+ would be 105. That's because he, unlike Morgan, makes a truckload of Outs.

Joe Morgan was already a special player even before he moved out of the power-sapping Astrodome AND before MLB decided to lower the mound. An improvement in Morgan's power output could certainly be anticipated considering both events. After that, Morgan's continued refinement of his already-present skill sets led to an offensive peak (1975-1976) versus his contemporaries that even Chase Utley circa 2007 can't touch versus his own peer group. To put it in context, Joe Morgan's 1976 OPS+ was 187. To this point in the season, Alex Rodriguez' OPS+ was 189.

Simply put, for Brandon Phillips to have a peak versus his peer group like Joe Morgan's he'd have to suddenly turn into someone capable of matching the two best season's A-Rod has ever produced (including 2007). That's...not...going...to...happen.

fearofpopvol1
09-09-2007, 06:27 PM
Really, when considering offense and defense, Phillips isn't even a first tier major league second baseman among his peers. He's looking up at guys like Utley, Roberts and Polanco who are better both offensively and defensively. Morgan WAS second for a generation and probably all time.

If Phillips hits 30/30 this year (needs 2 HRs and 1 SB), he'll be only the 2nd player in MLB history at 2B (Alfonso Soriano being the other) to hit 30/30. I'd say he qualifies as a first tier major league 2B.

jojo
09-09-2007, 06:51 PM
If Phillips hits 30/30 this year (needs 2 HRs and 1 SB), he'll be only the 2nd player in MLB history at 2B (Alfonso Soriano being the other) to hit 30/30. I'd say he qualifies as a first tier major league 2B.

Unless you compare his total value to the total values of his peers. Counting stats are nice but there is much more to player evaluation than homers and SB totals.

I love that this discussion has focused on the ability to not make an out.

Highlifeman21
09-09-2007, 07:37 PM
Wrong. Look at Morgan's stats to age 26. Foolish post.

At 26, you couldn't say JOE MORGAN was going to be Joe Morgan, let alone assess that Brandon Phillips will not have a career on par with Morgan's. Too early to tell.

Playing in 731 G through age 26, Joe Morgan accomplished WAY MORE than Brandon Phillips has through the same age. Joe Morgan established himself during that time, and it's not unreasonable to project what he would have done post age 26.

Brandon Phillips has had 2 nice years, that's it. We can't reasonably project that he will continue to improve on 2 years of performance, however we can say feasibly that he will not make great leaps and bounds to become a top 5 2B OF ALL TIME.






-----

The more I think about Brandon Phillips, the more I think we should move him this offseason. I can stomach Jeff Keppinger at 2B, if moving Brandon Phillips nets us either a legitimate #3 SP, or top AAA pitching prospects.

Ltlabner
09-09-2007, 08:55 PM
The more I think about Brandon Phillips, the more I think we should move him this offseason. I can stomach Jeff Keppinger at 2B, if moving Brandon Phillips nets us either a legitimate #3 SP, or top AAA pitching prospects.

I'm not picking at you Highlifeman, and I agree that everyone should be on the block for the right deal. But it is a little discouraging that everytime a young tallented player comes along, people call for him to be traded. Can't we enjoy them for a year or two at least before unloading them?

Again, everybody is available for the right trade, and you have to give up something to get something (especially in a pitching starved universe). I understand that...it'd just be nice if the law of the west and reality were suspended for a while so we could actually enjoy some young tallent for more than a season or two. I guess it's a gripe about the realitys of todays baseball marketplace than anything.

Ok..sorry to hijack. Back to the hyperbole!

GAC
09-10-2007, 05:50 AM
Tools and a solid body of research are available now-that weren't available in 1969-which allow players to be projected to extents much greater than in the past. Statheads would've loved Morgan in 1969.

How so? Through 1969, Joe had been with the Astros 4 years and was 25 years old. And in '69 he posted his worst numbers in his short career to date. So not knowing what we know now about Joe, but looking at this young "unknown" in 1969, how would statheads have loved this young ballplayer?

And from where did you get these numbers from Joe at?



Joe Morgan : (1965-1967)
Age 21: .290/.395/.444 OPS: .839
Age 22: .304/.433/.415 OPS: .848
Age 23: .297/.403/.444 OPS: .847

I got the below from Baseball-Reference and Baseball Almanac...


AGE GAMES BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 21 157 .271 .373 .418 .791
1966 22 122 .285 .410 .391 .801
1967 23 133 .275 .378 .411 .789
1968 24 10 .250 .444 .350 .794
1969 25 147 .236 .365 .372 .737

RedsBaron
09-10-2007, 06:37 AM
And from where did you get these numbers from Joe at?



I got the below from Baseball-Reference and Baseball Almanac...


AGE GAMES BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 21 157 .271 .373 .418 .791
1966 22 122 .285 .410 .391 .801
1967 23 133 .275 .378 .411 .789
1968 24 10 .250 .444 .350 .794
1969 25 147 .236 .365 .372 .737

I'd guess he got those numbers from Baseball-Reference.com by using the Stats Neutralizer, which revises statistics to attempt to reflect neutral playing conditions with an average of 715 runs per team. Do that, with Morgan's numbers not being held down by playing in the pitching favorable era of the 1960s and having the Astrodome as his home park, and those are his numbers.
Brandon Phillips to me is a much better comparable to Juan Samuel instead of Joe Morgan. In 1987, Samuel, the same age as Phillips is now, age 26, came out of nowhere to have a big year with the Phillies. Samuel hit .272 with a .335 OBP and .502 SLG, not all that different than Phillips' current 2007 numbers, with the season not done, of .288 .333 .494. Samuel hit 28 HRs with 100 RBI, 107 runs scored, and 34 steals. Phillips thus far has 28 HRs, 84 RBI, 97 runs and 29 steals. Neither guy walked or walks much: Samuel had 58 base on balls, Phillips a mere 28.
Juan Samuel never duplicated his 1987 season. Although he played through age 37, his year at age 26 was his peak. He finished his career with 1578 hits, 161 HRs, 703 RBI, a .259 career average, a career .315 OBP and a career .420 SLG.

mth123
09-10-2007, 07:00 AM
I'd guess he got those numbers from Baseball-Reference.com by using the Stats Neutralizer, which revises statistics to attempt to reflect neutral playing conditions with an average of 715 runs per team. Do that, with Morgan's numbers not being held down by playing in the pitching favorable era of the 1960s and having the Astrodome as his home park, and those are his numbers.
Brandon Phillips to me is a much better comparable to Juan Samuel instead of Joe Morgan. In 1987, Samuel, the same age as Phillips is now, age 26, came out of nowhere to have a big year with the Phillies. Samuel hit .272 with a .335 OBP and .502 SLG, not all that different than Phillips' current 2007 numbers, with the season not done, of .288 .333 .494. Samuel hit 28 HRs with 100 RBI, 107 runs scored, and 34 steals. Phillips thus far has 28 HRs, 84 RBI, 97 runs and 29 steals. Neither guy walked or walks much: Samuel had 58 base on balls, Phillips a mere 28.
Juan Samuel never duplicated his 1987 season. Although he played through age 37, his year at age 26 was his peak. He finished his career with 1578 hits, 161 HRs, 703 RBI, a .259 career average, a career .315 OBP and a career .420 SLG.


Good post. Samuel is a good comp offensively. Phillips defensive ability will alow him to stay on the field more than Samuel did when the offense dropped off a little. That should make the future for Phillips better than Samuel's from an overall point of view, but the added playing time his defense provides could ultimately lower phillips rate stats. Phillip's glove will likely keep him in the line-up even when he isn't hitting. Samuel's glove was no asset and when he wasn't hitting he frequently sat, so the slumps didn't have as big a negative effect on his rate stats that Phillip's slumps have on his.

jojo
09-10-2007, 08:16 AM
How so? Through 1969, Joe had been with the Astros 4 years and was 25 years old. And in '69 he posted his worst numbers in his short career to date. So not knowing what we know now about Joe, but looking at this young "unknown" in 1969, how would statheads have loved this young ballplayer?

1968 was a lost season due to a serious injury which obviously effected him in 1969. Context makes a big difference. How would statheads have loved him? Consistently posting 130 OPS+ while in his early 20's, playing excellent defense at a premium defensive position, getting on base at a .410 clip at age 22, getting on base at a .365 clip in 1969 (one of his weakest years of his career) and having the year used as proof he wasn't all that.....that's how. Back in the late 60's he was a heralded young player. Statheads would drool over such a player now and they would've drooled over him if teleported back to the offseason in 1969.


And from where did you get these numbers from Joe at?



I got the below from Baseball-Reference and Baseball Almanac...


AGE GAMES BA OBP SLG OPS
1965 21 157 .271 .373 .418 .791
1966 22 122 .285 .410 .391 .801
1967 23 133 .275 .378 .411 .789
1968 24 10 .250 .444 .350 .794
1969 25 147 .236 .365 .372 .737

I got the numbers from baseball reference's nuetralize tool so that Morgan and Phillips could be compared on an apples to apples basis

MartyFan
09-11-2007, 01:14 AM
BP is the leader of the next generation of Reds...Not Dunn, Not Junior, Not anyone else...BP is this teams leader.