Brandon Phillips has answered the bell this year. After signing his big contract - probably the last big contract he’ll ever sign, he has come out on fire through 66 games and is on pace for a career season. It’s still early and Brandon will eventually cool off. And heat up again. And cool off. And heat up again. But barring any injuries, he’s on pace for another solid season, if not the best season of his career.
Coming into this season, BP has played six full seasons with the Reds (since being rescued from purgatory in Cleveland by Mr. Krivsky) and in those six seasons, he’s averaged 21 HR’s, 81 RBI’s, 30 2B, 22 SB, and 166 H, to go along with a .779 OPS and .280 BA in an average of 650 plate appearances.
In this year, his 7th with the Reds, DatDude is on pace for 22 HR’s, 103 RBI’s, 25 2B, 5 SB, and 169 H in 623 plate appearances and that’s with missing time early on with an hamstring injury. All but SB and 2B are up, as well as a .796 OPS and a .294 BA. His career OPS+ (including this season) is 97, but it is 103 through 4158 PA with the Reds - 90% of his career PA’s (he got such a bad start in Cleveland that it’s taken a while to get it up to 97). In his last 929 PA’s, his OPS+ is a very respectable 117.
Brandon Phillips has five more years on his contract after this year. If he’s not extended in that timeframe, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2017 season, at the age of 36. Let’s say between this year and the next five he manages to keep up his 20+ HR, 80+ RBI, 160+ H, .780ish OPS pace he’s played to over the past six years with the Reds.
By the end of 2017 (age 36) that would give him:
200 SB (I’m giving him 10 per year for the next 6 seasons)
100 OPS+ (103 for the next 6 years, will take his 97 up to 100)
Phillips has won 3 gold gloves with pretty much a guarantee of a 4th this year. And we know that he’ll probably win a bunch more now that he’s on the gold glove train. Heck, he’ll probably win one or two towards the end of his career when he doesn’t even deserve them (see: Ozzie Smith). Let’s be conservative and say he finishes with 8 GG’s. HOFer’s Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, and Bill Mazeroski won 10, 9, and 8 respectively. Joe Morgan won 5. The only non-Hall of Famer’s with more than Phillips right now are Frank White (8), Bobby Richardson (5), Brett Boone (4), Bobby Grich (4), Orlando Hudson (4) and Craig Biggio (4). Biggio could be removed from that list as he’ll be in the HOF soon. It’s safe to assume that as long as he stays healthy, Phillips will pass all the non-Hall of Famer’s, with the exception of possibly Frank White (8) and that's being conservative.
What’s important to note, though, is how spectacular Phillips is at 2B. He could go down as being the Ozzie Smith of his position. Sandberg won a few based on his name. In my opinion, Ron Oester deserved a GG or two, but Ryno was all the rage in the 80’s and seemed to win them simply on popularity. The same could be said for Ozzie (with 13 at SS) towards the end of his career, over one Barry Larkin, but I digress. The point is that that when a player comes around and transcends a position defensively, some warts with their offense (or lack of career counting stats) can go unnoticed when it comes to the HOF (see again: Ozzie Smith with a career OPS+ of 87).
So the question is (as long as he puts up the offensive numbers mentioned above and wins at least 8 GG's), IN YOUR OPINION, can (or will) Brandon earn his way to the HOF by the time he plays out his contract in 2017?
2000+ hits, 250+ HR, 1000+ RBI, 200+ SB, 100+ OPS…with at least 8 gold gloves. Is that enough to get him in the HOF?
I say yes.