CINCINNATI — This is for sure: Brandon Phillips has swagger. This is also for sure: fans around the country will not see it on display for the remainder of October because his Cincinnati Reds were ambushed by the San Francisco Giants last week after taking a two-games-to-none lead in a first-round best-of-five playoff series.
So a player who routinely makes highlight reel plays at second base, irks opponents’ with his in-your-face style, and plays with an ear-to-ear grin plastered on his face will basically be out of sight until spring training.
In the series against San Francisco, Phillips was 9 for 24 at the plate for a .375 average, with 3 doubles, a home run and 7 runs batted in. It was all in keeping with a 31-year-old player who is a sparkplug at the top of the lineup and has three Gold Gloves, two All-Star Game selections, a Silver Slugger award and a 30-30 season to his credit.
Off the field — well after Game 3 of the division series against the Giants — he stood in the Reds’ locker room in a colorful striped sweater with Ray-Ban sunglasses resting on his head and gingham-print high-tops on his feet. Then there is the custom-made, purple Audi R8 sports car he drives and the nearly 600,000 Twitter followers he entertains as @DatDudeBP.
He is, in other words, the kind of player made for a national spotlight he just hasn’t been in all that much. Indeed, the only other time he was in the postseason came in 2010, when the Reds were swept in three games in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Phillips batted .333 in that series.
“It’s hard to find that energy with talent,” Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. “He sparks us on the field, off the field, on defense, on offense, and he can do many things to beat you. Other than Barry Bonds, he’s the only player I’ve had that can bat anywhere in the lineup and feel comfortable.”
Tucked away in Cincinnati, a second-round pick out of Stone Mountain, Ga., in the 1999 draft, Phillips said last week that he “probably has more fun playing the game than anyone.”
Or as his teammate Bronson Arroyo put it: “Brandon loves the show. He also loves feeling the fans. Like, hey, this is what I just did for you guys and you know it. Guys on other teams probably don’t like it too much because it probably comes off as showboating, but on some level it makes him who he is and it makes him good.”
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