Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/16/14
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Brandon Phillips has registered at least 587 plate appearances in each of his seven full season, all with Cincinnati. In those seven years he’s batted over .276 just three times. Two of those times have come in the last two years.In 2007 Phillips was a 30/30 player. In 2008 and 2009 he was a 20/20 player. In the last three seasons he’s failed to reach 20 homers or 20 steals even once. While Phillips is clearly declining — he’ll be 32 this June — he’s actually reinvented himself over these last two seasons and become a more balanced hitter.His strikeout rate has sat around 12.5% over the last three seasons after hovering around 15.5% in his first three, and his line drive rates in 2011 and 2012 (19.8% and 20.6%, respectively) were the two best of his career. Better strikeout rates and higher line drives generally yield better batting averages, and Phillips’ .294 and .290 xBAs in ’11 and ’12 only serve to reinforce this logic.It should be noted that Phillips had a career high 40.6% O-Swing rate last year (percentage of pitches swung at outside the strike zone), a career high, which led to a drop in his walk rate and likely contributed to his 9.2% infield fly rate (worst since 2008).At a GlanceStrengths: RNeutral: HR, RBI, SB, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Dustin Pedroia (BOS)Likely scenario: Ben Zobrist (TB), Jayson Werth (WAS), Aaron Hill (ARI)Worst-case scenario: Torii Hunter (DET)Brandon Phillips 2013 Fantasy ProjectionOver the last five years Phillips has seen his homer total slowly decline from 21 to 20 to three straight years of exactly 18. We figure he falls a homer shy of making it four straight seasons.Regardless, Phillips will likely give you around 30-35 homers and steals combined with a .280-.290 average. Shin-Soo Choo was a huge addition for the Reds, and his on-base skills will benefit Phillips in the two-hole. When our 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide comes out on March 1, expect to see Phillips with more than 67 projected RBI as a result.Phillips’ ADP right now is 74.0, which seems pretty much spot on given his production over the last few years. Truth be told, once we up his RBI total that’s probably right where he’ll fall in our pre-draft rankings.He’s not a great OBP guy, really just a hair better than league average, but he could potentially finish with an OBP in the .340-.350 range if he restrains himself on those balls outside the zone and draws a few extra walks. Overall, though, second base drops off pretty quickly, and Phillips is a safe guy to target in all formats.
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