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Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: BRANDON PHILLIPS 2B CINCINNATI REDS

                                                             Brandon Phillips 

Once again it is time to identify a prime 2014 fantasy baseball draft bust as we continue to steer you clear of some dangerous players this season.  One such case is aging Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips who by the numbers is coming off a terrific 2013 campaign where he drove in a career-high 103 runs with 18 homers at a power-starved spot.  However despite the glowing numbers, there are more than a few reasons to be concerned about making an investment here for this season.  Let's take a look at why.  First let's post Phillips' complete 2013 so that we can set up the direction the rest of this article will take. 

.261 18 HR 108 RBI 80 R 5 SB

Clearly there are some things to like here such as the extreme RBI total for a second baseman and the 18 home runs.  Phillips was trusted to bat cleanup for much of 2013 which is a tall responsibility that he surely came through with.  However I am here to tell you there is almost ZERO chance Phillips matches that number this season and even reaching 90 is looking like a tall order.  When looking under the hood, Phillips was NUMBER 1 in all of baseball in 2013 when it came to the amount of runners on base when he came to bat.  Having both on-base monsters Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto hitting ahead of him was the prime reason for this and at least in Choo's case, he is no longer on the team after signing a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers.  Less men on base mean fewer RBI opportunities and Phillips is likely to see a drastic drop in his overall number there with Choo out of town and his runners in scoring position number going back to a more level spot.  The 18 home runs are very repeatable though as has unbelievably finished at that exact number the last FOUR seasons.  However if the Reds have Phillips batting cleanup again as expected, you can forget his past as a 90-plus runs guy and the 80 he had last season would be more likely in his range. 

Now let's get to the batting average and stolen bases.  As far as the average is concerned, Phillips is only a career .271 hitter.  He hits lefties better than righties which is not the ratio you want any of your hitters to have since there are obviously so many more righthanded pitchers in the game.  However in Phillips' defense, he has hit at least .276 the four seasons prior to 2013 so he is likely to see a slight boost up from last year's .261 number.  However anything under .280 is just a mediocre average so Phillips won't be a help there. 

Finally we get to the stolen bases or utter lack thereof of them given the fact Phillips is now turning 33.  The last time Phillips stole 20 or more bases was back in 2009 and despite being in the mid-teens the last three years, the drop to only 5 last season was a big red flag.  Obviously players begin to lose their speed after turning 30 and by the looks of things last season, Phillips is reaching that point.  If Phillips does reach double-figures again, consider it a nice surprising bonus.  Project him in the mid-single digits and go from there.

When you put it all together, Brandon Phillips has some decent negatives going for him in steals and average while also accepting how his RBI total will slip as well.  That is three potentially problem categories out of 5 which makes Phillips look like a declining stock you should not invest it.  Yes second base is shallow but projecting Phillips based on what he did last season is foolhardy and will likely lead to massive disappointment going forward into the 2014 campaign.

2014 PROJECTION:  .275 19 HR 91 RBI 82 R 7 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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