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Thread: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    A lot has been made on RedsZone over the past few years over where Brandon Phillips "best" fits in the lineup. Jerry Crasnick just posted a brief article on ESPN exploring it as well and quoting Phillips about the different approach batting 2nd requires.

    So I decided to take a look. The sample sizes aren't huge, but we do have about a season worth of data of him batting 1st, 2nd and 3rd and about 3 seasons of him batting cleanup.

    Code:
    Split		G	PA	AB	BB/PA	SO/PA	SO:BB	BA	OBP	SLG	OPS	BAbip	tOPS+	PA:GIDP
    Batting 1st	150	691	631	6.4%	14.0%	2.2	.265	.325	.426	.751	.285	99	77
    Batting 2nd	182	813	749	4.8%	11.9%	2.5	.279	.322	.427	.749	.296	99	43
    Batting 3rd	123	528	484	5.3%	12.3%	2.3	.277	.323	.428	.750	.295	99	35
    Batting 4th	470	2023	1854	6.2%	13.8%	2.2	.282	.331	.454	.785	.298	108	29
    1. First and foremost, we should take the time to recognize the obvious. At the end of the day, it basically doesn't matter. Phillips is who he is and any changes we see are more or less at the margins. I think we sometimes forget to do this. A finding of "no difference" is still really interesting. It suggests that the difference in approach he takes doesn't actually seem to move the performance needle much. It may feel different to him and his thought processes may change a bit, but at the end of the day, his physical abilities are what they are.

    2. The biggest difference is that Phillips has hit for more power batting cleanup then compared to batting higher in the lineup. However, I would posit that while this may be indicative of a change in his approach due to the spot in the lineup, he's also hit cleanup more recently, in his peak, when we would expect his power output to be higher.

    3. While batting 2nd, he's been the most free swinging. Again, this could be indicative of his approach due to the spot in the lineup. But it could also be a function of a change in approach over time.

    4. GIDPs matter, sort of. While they don't show up in the adjusted OPS, his increased rate of hitting in to double plays batting cleanup likely offsets the power boost. That said, Phillips (and any hitter batting behind a high OBP guy like Votto) is more prone to hitting in to double plays when there are guys on base ahead of him and sadly, the Reds haven't been good at getting guys on base at the top of the order.

    5. To reiterate. It doesn't really matter where he hits. He is who he is. The biggest function of the lineup is the distribution of the plate appearances rather than maximizing some unique characteristic of a skill-set.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 02-18-2013 at 11:28 AM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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  4. #2
    Future Fame of Holler WildcatFan's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    I'm less than proficient at digging up situational stats, but I'd like to see his approach with a man on. As you pointed out, he hasn't come up to the plate often with a man on from the second spot. He should do so now around 40 percent of the time, and I'd like to think that influences his discipline and controlled swings.
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Interesting I am a little worried about him being prone to hit into a dp. But at the same time I without looking up the numbers I would have been sure that his numbers would have been worse avg/obp wise when hitting fourth, but obviously the numbers don't reflect that, or much of any change at all.

  6. #4
    * Bat Votto Second * goreds2's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by alwaysawarrior View Post
    Interesting I am a little worried about him being prone to hit into a dp.
    It is nice to have that worry now knowing someone will be at first base about 35% of the time.
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    13 Belongs in Cooperstown Captain13's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by goreds2 View Post
    It is nice to have that worry now knowing someone will be at first base about 35% of the time.
    And that doesn't even take into acount the times BP will come up with Choo on 2nd or 3rd.
    What if this is as good as it gets?

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Phillips is very adept at hitting the ball to the right side. I like the matchup he gives the Reds with a runner on first -- and with Choo ahead of him, it will happen much more often than in the past.
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Reds don't have a natural second place hitter.

    Phillips had a low OBP last season, a very low walk rate. He hits into a lot of DPs and I don't think it's just because he has hit behind Votto.

    He'd be better off hitting sixth in this order. There, he can swing away, use his good power, be less concerned with setting the table.

    Brandon's seasons are not all the same, some years he gets on base better than others. Hopefully he adjusts to hitting second, uses his right field swing, and takes more walks than usual.

    But if he erases Choo 20 times on DPs, that's not good.
    Last edited by Kc61; 02-18-2013 at 01:22 PM.

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    Phillips is very adept at hitting the ball to the right side. I like the matchup he gives the Reds with a runner on first -- and with Choo ahead of him, it will happen much more often than in the past.
    Spot on.

    Plus Choo is a legit base stealing threat, so that should get the #2 guy some fastballs and some additional "mistakes" to hit due to the pitchers divided attention with a SB threat on first.

    I think BP will shine in the #2 hole if given the chance, and I also think he's the best guy on the current squad to fill that spot.
    Last edited by smixsell; 02-18-2013 at 01:36 PM.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Regarding Phillips' double play rate, within the counting stats it's hard to separate his skill from the opportunities. Clearly having Votto in front of him while batting 4th leads to a spike. However, his his high contact rate paired with his high GB:FB ratio suggests it's a problem for him generally, agnostic of opportunities. At the same time, those skills have positive outcomes as well, such as base advancement through sacrifices that doesn't occur via strikeout.

    From what I understand, the positive value of contact-out driven base-advancement and the negative value of double plays tend to offset. Personally, I all else being equal, I think it makes sense to have contact oriented guys like Phillips lower in the order, where double plays hurt less and there is generally still good opportunity for sacrifices that create runs.

    Given that, I'd flip Phillips and Frazier. However, as I said earlier I don't think it makes all that much of a difference.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 02-18-2013 at 02:19 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by WildcatFan View Post
    I'm less than proficient at digging up situational stats, but I'd like to see his approach with a man on. As you pointed out, he hasn't come up to the plate often with a man on from the second spot. He should do so now around 40 percent of the time, and I'd like to think that influences his discipline and controlled swings.
    When someone is on base, he is slightly more likely to get on base with slightly less power. Hare are some other numbers so you can try to make any other conclusions you'd like.
    Code:
    Split	G	PA	AB	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	BA	OBP	SLG	OPS	TB	HBP	ROE	BAbip	tOPS+
    Empty	1122	2709	2545	688	137	15	87	87	132	387	.270	.314	.439	.753	1116	31	37	.290	99
    Men On	1073	2280	2032	561	95	14	61	514	156	317	.276	.330	.427	.757	867	27	23	.296	101

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Regarding Phillips' double play rate, within the counting stats it's hard to separate his skill from the opportunities. Clearly having Votto in front of him while batting 4th leads to a spike. However, his his high contact rate paired with his high GB:FB ratio suggests it's a problem for him generally, agnostic of opportunities. At the same time, those skills have positive outcomes as well, such as base advancement through sacrifices that doesn't occur via strikeout.

    From what I understand, the positive value of contact-out driven base-advancement and the negative value of double plays tend to offset. Personally, I all else being equal, I think it makes sense to have contact oriented guys like Phillips lower in the order, where double plays hurt less and there is generally still good opportunity for sacrifices that create runs.

    Given that, I'd flip Phillips and Frazier. However, as I said earlier I don't think it makes all that much of a difference.
    I suggested Frazier hitting second on a different thread. Based on last year's numbers it would make sense. Frazier had a higher OBP and hits more fly balls thus fewer DPs.

    Of course, Todd is less proven than Brandon, Todd certainly is more of a power guy, probably will strike out more, not an ideal two hitter.

    My best hope is based on BP's 2011 stats. As a leadoff hitter in the lineup that year, in 177 PAs, Brandon had a .417 OBP and clearly adjusted his hitting to maximize lead off skills.

    Hopefully BP will figure out that the spot between Choo and Votto is critical in terms of keeping innings/rallies alive. If he adopts a high OBP approach, tries to walk more and hit to right, I'm hoping it will work out.
    Last edited by Kc61; 02-18-2013 at 02:58 PM.

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    As I've said before, my hope is that Brandon sees a lot of LH relief pitchers hitting in-between Choo and Votto. As we know, Phillips can punish LH pitchers. In the past, when Phillips batted second he followed another RH hitter, Stubbs, and there was less incentive for the opposition to have a LH reliever in the game...
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Choo
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Phillips has already shown the ability to hit well in " contact mode" --- shortening his stroke and trying to simply drive/slap the ball the other way. If he is willing to adopt this approach at the plate whenever the situation warrants it, he will be a great 2 hitter. No other hitter in our lineup has demonstrated this ability like BP has. This is one of the many situations where the stats don't tell the story, the educated baseball eye does. BP has shown the ability to adjust his hitting well to profit from having a SB threat on first, whether he has the mental discipline to sacrifice the HRs and go for singles the other way during HALF of his at bats ALL YEAR LONG is the only issue that could make him fail to be a smash hit in the 2 spot IMO

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Brandon Phillips Batting 2nd

    Quote Originally Posted by smixsell View Post
    Phillips has already shown the ability to hit well in " contact mode" --- shortening his stroke and trying to simply drive/slap the ball the other way. If he is willing to adopt this approach at the plate whenever the situation warrants it, he will be a great 2 hitter. No other hitter in our lineup has demonstrated this ability like BP has. This is one of the many situations where the stats don't tell the story, the educated baseball eye does. BP has shown the ability to adjust his hitting well to profit from having a SB threat on first, whether he has the mental discipline to sacrifice the HRs and go for singles the other way during HALF of his at bats ALL YEAR LONG is the only issue that could make him fail to be a smash hit in the 2 spot IMO
    You clearly haven't been watching Joey Votto.

    "This is one of the many situations where the stats don't tell the story ... "

    There are stats that can dis/prove everything you're saying. Everything I've seen so far would indicate that what you're saying isn't true. All my educated baseball eye is telling me is that BP makes an effort to shorten his swing at times, and sometimes he's successful with it. There aren't many major leaguers who can have successful careers without doing that.


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