Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The DNR 25: #11 Tony Phillips


Full Name
Keith Anthony Phillips

DOB
4/25/59

College
None (Roswell High School, Roswell, GA)

Drafted
1978, 1st Round, 10th pick, Montreal Expos

MLB Seasons
1982-1999

Tiger Seasons
1990-1994

Career Stats
.266 Avg, 160 HR, 819 RBI, .374 OBP, .763 OPS, 1319 BB, 109 OPS+

Career Leaderboard
All Time: 35th in Walks (1319)
1992: 1st in Runs (114)
1993: 1st in Walks (132)
1996: 1st in Walks (125)

Best Tiger Season
Tony the Tiger’s .443 OBP in 707 plate appearances during the 1993 season was amazing. He hit .313 with 7 homers, 57 RBI, and an OPS+ of 130. He led the AL in walks that year with 132. Phillips scored 113 runs, as well. Overall, he personified what the perfect leadoff hitter should be that season, something I’ve been thinking a lot about in all the Johnny Damon mania lately. Phillips finished 16th in the MVP race that season.

Little Known Fact
In 1993, Tony was the first player to have 100 or more hits, walks, runs, and strikeouts in the same season with less than 10 homers. He's still the only player to do so, for what it's worth.

Reason For Being On The List
Tony Phillips is simply the best leadoff hitter the Tigers have had in the past 25 years. Lou Whitaker and Curtis Granderson are remembered more fondly by Tiger fans, but in Tony’s time in Detroit, he had a .395 OBP, averaged 100 runs a season, and had a combined OPS of .800. Outstanding.

He did everything you want out of an unselfish leadoff hitter. The man got on base and got runs on the board. It sounds simple, but in modern baseball, chicks dig the long ball and the little things are overlooked. You don’t get many like Tony Phillips.

It’s even more amazing when you consider that Tony didn’t mind playing a different position every day if he was asked to. He logged a lot of time at second, short, third, DH, and outfield during his tenure. Imagine Ryan Raburn if he was good at everything...that was Tony Phillips.

What Happened To Him?
In April of 1995, Tony was traded for the California Angels’ Chad Curtis. Curtis was a younger, cheaper player, but in retrospect, it was a bad deal for the Tigers. Phillips would hit a career high 27 homers that year for the Angels. After that season, he joined the Chicago White Sox as a free agent. That didn’t last long as Tony was traded back to the Angels in May of 1997 with Chad Kreuter in exchange for a young catcher, Jorge Fabregas, and relief pitcher, Chuck McElroy.

Tony’s career was winding down as he was released by the Angels in April of 1998. A couple months later, he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he only played 13 games. Phillips was on the move a month later when the Jays traded him to the New York Mets for a guy named Leo Estrella. That December, Phillips re-signed with his orginal MLB team, the Oakland A’s, where he would play his final 106 games and have a respectable 108 OPS+ in 484 plate appearances.

Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pic via Photobucket.

2 comments:

Ian C. said...

Some Tigers fans look at me sideways when I say Tony Phillips is my favorite Tiger. And I understand, since he's not classically associated with the Tigers, as Trammell, Whitaker, Gibby, etc. would be.

But like you said, he's the best leadoff hitter the Tigers have had in my lifetime of watching the team. And even more impressive, Phillips made himself into that kind of player.

When he signed with the Tigers, he was a .230-hitting utility infielder that Sparky wanted, because he wanted someone who could catch the ball at third base.

Never mind that it turned out he could catch it anywhere. (With no data to back me up, I think he was one of the best rightfielders the Tigers had until Bobby Higginson arrived.)

Ian C. said...

Some Tigers fans look at me sideways when I say Tony Phillips is my favorite Tiger. And I understand, since he's not classically associated with the Tigers, as Trammell, Whitaker, Gibby, etc. would be.

But like you said, he's the best leadoff hitter the Tigers have had in my lifetime of watching the team. And even more impressive, Phillips made himself into that kind of player.

When he signed with the Tigers, he was a .230-hitting utility infielder that Sparky wanted, because he wanted someone who could catch the ball at third base.

Never mind that it turned out he could catch it anywhere. (With no data to back me up, I think he was one of the best rightfielders the Tigers had until Bobby Higginson arrived.)