May 25, 2013

McCoy: Brandon Phillips “slipping into Joe Morgan’s domain”

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If the aforementioned quote refers to a science fiction film, you can count me in. As it relates to baseball, though, I’m not on board. In a column for FOX Sports Ohio, Hal McCoy uses some dubious statistical comparisons to equate Phillips to Joe Morgan. It’s an otherwise interesting and informative column, but I can’t get past this:

Morgan played seven years for the Cincinnati Reds and Phillips is in his seventh year with the Reds. And so many of their statistics are dead-on similar that it is eerie.

Consider: Joe Morgan hit 152 home runs and Phillips has 150. Joe Morgan had 612 RBI and Phillips has 605. Brandon Phillips has 221 doubles and Morgan had 220. Brandon Phillips has 1,214 hits and Morgan had 1,155.

Consider: Morgan had a career .392 on-base percentage and led the league in the category four times. On ten different occasions, Morgan finished a season with a .400 or better OBP. Phillips has a career average .322 OBP and has never exceeded .353 in a season.

Morgan posted an .800 or better OPS on seven different occasions, going as high as 1.020 in 1976, the second of his back-to-back MVP award-winning seasons. Phillips has gone .800 or better just three times. When you adjust OPS for the quality of the league and for park effects, Morgan’s career average is 132, Phillips is at 97 (the general average is set at 100). Morgan also stole 689 bases in 851 attempts (81%) while Phillips has only stolen 154 in 215 attempts (72%). Phillips certainly has Morgan on defense and even though Baseball Reference credits Phillips at 52 career runs above average defensively and Morgan 48 runs below, Morgan easily wins the WAR battle 100 to 24.

Phillips is a great player and extremely fun to watch, but it is unfair to put him in the same conversation as one of the greatest second basemen ever to play the game of baseball.