Come on, Brandon Phillips. You’re better than that.
Phillips is in the midst of another productive season, and the Reds still have an outside chance of winning the National League Central. At the very least, Cincinnati should be able to secure one of the NL’s two wild card spots. So can someone explain why Phillips is concerned about a sportswriter pointing out the three-time All-Star’s on-base percentage?
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer sent out a few tweets Wednesday afternoon regarding Phillips’ spot in the Reds’ lineup. Rosecrans found it odd that Phillips was batting second instead of Todd Frazier, who boasts a higher on-base percentage. Sounds like a reasonable question to ask, right?
Well, Phillips didn’t think so. The Reds second baseman blasted Rosecrans in the visiting manager’s office following Cincinnati’s 10-0 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, calling the writer a not-so-nice name and yelling about discovering his Twitter handle.
The scene was a real head-shaker, and the whole ordeal was unnecessary in more ways than one. Let’s start with the basics, though. Why the heck is Phillips so upset?
Rosecrans’ tweets — seen below — are harmless. Sure, they don’t paint Phillips in the best light, but it’s strictly an on-field assessment. It’s not as if Rosecrans personally attacked Phillips or his family. He simply presented facts to back up an opinion, which, in this case, was that Phillips should be hitting in a different spot in Cincinnati’s lineup. (How dare he, I guess?)
Reds go from a hitter with a .320 OBP in the 2 hole to one with a .310 OBP—
(@ctrent) August 28, 2013
Phillips career slash line: .272/.320/.430. career slash in 2 spot: .277/.320/.424—
(@ctrent) August 28, 2013
Phillips’ outburst, which involved poking fun at Rosecrans’ weight and dragging Dusty Baker into the situation, was downright stupid. Rosecrans’ initial point was not.
Phillips is a great player. He’s one of the best second basemen in baseball, both offensively and defensively, and he’s a big reason for the Reds’ success. That being said, his on-base percentage stinks. No temper tantrum is going to change that.
Phillips’ .311 on-base percentage ranks 12th among 17 qualified second basemen, and it ranks 115th among all major leaguers. To give you some perspective, it would be the lowest on-base percentage in the Red Sox’ starting lineup — .22 points behind Stephen Drew’s .333 OBP.
Again, this isn’t to say that Phillips is a bad player. His 16 home runs, 95 RBIs and Gold Glove-caliber defense prove quite the opposite. But it’s reasonable — as suggested by Mr. Rosecrans — to think that Phillips is better-suited for a different spot in Cincinnati’s lineup. And even if you disagree with Rosecrans — like Mr. Phillips — personal attacks seem a little over the top, no?
Ron Darling, who spent 13 years as a major leaguer before transitioning to a career in the media, put it best in regards to Phillips’ tirade against Rosecrans.
“They think they’re gonna embarrass the writer in front of others. What happens is they embarrass themselves,” Darling said while announcing Thursday’s Mets game.
Phillips certainly embarrassed himself when there was really no need to embarrass anyone. That begs the question: where is Phillips’ head right now? He should be focused on a pennant race, yet a little statistical argument caused him to lose his cool. It doesn’t make much sense.
Phillips said last month that his six-year, $72.5 million contract is a “slap in the face,” which clearly suggests that he views himself as a franchise cornerstone. Well, in that case, it’s time for Phillips to start acting like a franchise cornerstone off the field.