Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is Dat Dude worth?



Brandon Phillips was probably just trying to get a rise out of people when he tweeted, "Got a lot on my mind! Can't believe that today 'MIGHT' be the last time I may be wearing a @Reds jersey playing at #GABP," last night before the Reds' final 2011 home game. The only way that would be true is if the Reds didn't pick up his 2012 option, or if he pulled a Carson Palmer.

However, it's widely understood that Walt Jocketty will probably pick up the 2012 $12 million option on the gold glove, all-star, tweeting machine at second base. What is more alarming is that Phillips has also been quoted as saying it would be a "slap in the face" if he didn't receive a long term extension and there would be no "homeboy hookup" for the Reds to lock him up. You can see full quotes here. Phillips wants to be paid what he is worth, and I'd say that is a fairly decent amount, one maybe too high for the Reds' payroll to absorb.

So, let's take a look at what @DatDudeBP might be worth. How do you measure worth though? It's a tough question, but for a contract situation such as this, it's a safe bet to look at how Phillips compares to his MLB counterparts in stats and compensation, as well as another factor I deem important which is how much the fans love him.

Let me set you up first with his career numbers (when this was written) with the Reds. Phillips owns a .279 average, .330 on-base percentage, with 124 HR, 485 RBI, and 133 steals. He was a 30/30 guy in 2007, a 20/20 guy in 2008 and 2009, a two-time All-Star in 2010 and 2011, and won the Golden Glove in '08 and '10. In 2011, his stat line is .297, .348, 18 HR, 81 RBI, and 12 SB.
I'm going to try and not bore you with a whole bunch of stats (That's a lie. Well I'm not trying but it will probably happen), so I'm going to look at WAR (wins above replacement) first, which is a newly popular stat that many people like to look at in ranking players. What is WAR? In my simplest terms, it's basically how many wins a given player's team would get by having said player in the lineup versus a replacement or bench player (not another all-star at the same position).

Brandon Phillips currently ranks sixth in WAR among second baseman according to FanGraphs.com with his number at 5.5. Dustin Pedroia is the leader at 7.6, and the next closest person to Phillips is at 3.8. Ian Kinsler (6.8), Howie Kendrick (5.9), Robinson Cano (5.8), and Ben Zobrist (5.7) separate Pedroia and Phillips. If you look at Phillips WAR from 2006-2011, his tenure with the Reds, he ranks fifth at 23.2, behind Kinsler (24), Cano (24.5), Pedroia (25.5), and Chase Utley (40.8). That's a pretty good crowd in which to be for Phillips, but may not bode well for the Reds if they plan to sign him long term.

You can't forget about the glove either when you're talking Brandon Phillips. He has dazzled the fans by making some plays at second, that others wouldn't even think about trying. Aside from the fantastic, he has also been consistent on the routine plays as well. His career fielding percentage is .987, with 49 total errors with the Reds. 16 of those came in his first season with the team. As mentioned he won the Gold Glove in '08 and '10, and should have won it in '07 over Orlando Hudson if you ask me. Hudson won the Gold Glove in '06, '07, and '09. The Gold Glove is awarded based on a combination of player recognition and fielding percentage in my opinion because in '07 Phillips led the league in F% at .990, and Hudson was seventh at .985 in less chances, but still won the award. Based on that theory, it's logical to think Phillips will wear the Gold again for 2011. He's currently third at .991 behind Hudson and Neil Walker of the Pirates who are both at .992. Hudson has way less chances, and Walker isn't as well known as Phillips so maybe he'll get his third one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was awarded to one of the other two either with the Reds' luck. Either way, you can't argue against Phillips being a plus glove, in one of the best right sides of the infield (with Joey Votto) in all of baseball.

Well now, let's get into the juicy stuff and talk money. I picked six second basemans' contracts to look at, including some of the guys ahead of Phillips in WAR, and Dan Uggla which you'll see why below. All of my information on contracts was found at Cot's Baseball Contracts which seems to be pretty accurate.

-Brandon Phillips: 4yr/$27mil from 2008-2011. He is 30 years old with a $12mil option for '12.
-Chase Utley: 7 yr/$85mil from 2007-2013. He is 32 years old and making $15.286 mil in '12 and '13.
-Dustin Pedroia: 6yr/$40.5mil from 2009-2014. He is 28 years old and making $8.25mil in '12 and $10.25mil in '13 and '14.
-Howie Kendrick: 1yr/$3.3mil in 2011. He is 28 years old and will be in his 3rd year of arbitration going into 2012. His contract situation would be worth keeping an eye on to get an idea of what the current value of good second basemen is.
-Ian Kinsler: 5yr/$22mil from 2008-2012. He is 29 years old and will make $7.2mil in '12.
-Robinson Cano: 4yr/$30mil from 2008-2011. He is 28 years old with $14mil options in '12 and '13.
-Dan Uggla: 5yr/$62mil from 2011-2015. He is 31 years old and will make $13.2mil per year from '12-'15.

Analyzing those figures, Utley will make the most for a single season at $15.286 million in 2012 and 2013. If the Yankees pick up Cano's option for 2012, he will make $14 million. It is Uggla however who became the highest paid second basemen ever by per year average at $12.4 million per year (Utley's is $12.14mil/yr). Since Uggla just signed his contract in 2011, and has been in the league the same time Phillips has been with the Reds ('06-'11) it would seem the best comparison to look at in order to guess what Phillips could command.

Uggla's career numbers are .258 AVG, .343 OBP, 189 HR, 543 RBI. His power numbers are better than Phillips' are, but Brandon is no slouch and looks to be the answer at leadoff for the Reds right now, not to mention his glove is definitely better. Uggla's career F% is .980 and he has 88 errors since '06 compared to BP's 49.

I guess the question is whether or not Phillips feels he deserves to become the highest paid second baseman ever and how long of a contract he warrants at max value? He'll have to take less money in the later years when player skills decline. I never understood how someone could expect to be paid the same when they are 30 as when they are 40. There aren't many people who have the same production at those two ages. Anyways, Uggla's contract takes him to age 35, which I would say is a reasonable age until which to expect production. Is Phillips worth $12-$12.5 million a year for the next 5 to 6 years? I'd say so, and I bet BP and his agent would agree. The Reds might agree also, but as we all know this is a business and as a smaller market team, they might not have the funds to support that with Votto making $30.5 million over the next two years, Arroyo making $23.5 million over the next two, Bruce at 6yr/$51mil through 2016 and Cueto at 4yr/$27mil through 2014, and plus that's a lot of money for a second baseman and as much as you hate to even think about it, he can eventually be replaced.

Maybe the Reds will show the love and give Phillips something like a 5yr/$62.5mil contract which will make him surpass Uggla as the highest paid second baseman at $12.5/yr or perhaps they can agree on something like 6yr/$66mil which would lock Phillips up for an extra year, but for a bit less money. I know I would love to see Phillips locked up long term as would the others here at Redlegs Review. He has certainly turned into a fan favorite from his twitter contests to his web gems to his being the symbol of a Reds fan base united against the Cardinals. I think he has become easy to love his game to me is a player with the enthusiasm of a little leaguer but the skills of an All-Star.

So, what do you think? How much is Phillips worth to you, or is he not worth it all? Comment below or tweet at me @RedlegsWriter.

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