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Thread: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs....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.
    Code:
    
    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.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.

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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Outstanding post. I was thinking much the same when I read Wheeler's column.

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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    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.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.
    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: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    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.
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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.
    Last edited by fearofpopvol1; 09-08-2007 at 08:17 PM.

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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Mainspark View Post
    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.
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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    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".

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    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.
    Last edited by GAC; 09-09-2007 at 11:09 AM.
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs....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.
    Code:
    
    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.
    "Don't trust any statistics you did not fake yourself."--Winston Churchill

  15. #14
    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    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.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

  16. #15
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Lonnie Wheeler's Hyperbole: Joe Morgan vs. Brandon Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC View Post
    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".
    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelhouse
    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.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.


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