Head to Head: Pedroia vs Phillips

Today I will look at which of Dustin Pedroia or Brandon Phillips I would prefer to have as my 2B over the rest of the year. Pedroia has been a bit of a disappointment, while Phillips has had a better than expect season so far.

Preseason Projections

Here are each player’s 2011 projected (ZIPS) and actual 2011 stats for a standard 5X5 league:

PA Home Runs Runs RBI SB AVG
2011 143 4 22 18 2 0.315
ZiPS (R) 508 15 71 62 15 0.279
ZiPS (U) 648 19 93 80 17 0.286
2011 162 2 17 10 5 0.244
ZiPS (R) 468 11 66 46 12 0.292
ZiPS (U) 629 13 83 56 17 0.281

The only category that Pedroia would win in a heads up league would be batting average off of the 2011 ZIPS prediction. One problem with the projection is that Dustin is projected to only have 414 PA vice 508 PA for Brandon. If you take their counting stat projections and turn them into rate stats, here are the numbers:

Phillips 3.0% 14.0% 12.2% 3.0%
Pedroia 2.4% 14.1% 9.8% 2.6%

Dustin does now project to be better than Phillips, if they were each given the same number of at bats, in runs scored, but that is only by 0.1% per PA. Going into the season, some crazy people may have had Dustin as a better option at 2B, but just looking at projections, Phillips looks to be the better choice.

Besides just their projected stats, here are few more head to head comparisons:

Pedroia: 27
Phillips: 29

In any kind of keeper league, Pedroia will get a nice nod over Phillps for not being as far along in the aging process

Walk Rate (2011/lifetime)
Pedroia: 15.4%/9.1%
Phillips: 6.7%/5.9%

Dustin definitely has taken more walks this year than over his career. His 2011 OBP is only 9 points less than Brandon’s rate, even though Brandon’s batting average is 70 points higher.

Strikeout Rate (2011/lifetime)
Phillips: 11.8%/15.8%

The doubling of Dustin’s strikeout rate is rather disturbing. Looking at his plate discipline, his contact rate for pitches in the strike zone is down from being near or above 90% during his career to 80% this season.

Brandon, on the other hand, is actually striking out less, due to making contact on pitches in the zone 5% more often.

BABIP (2011/lifetime)
Pedroia: 0.287/0.309
Phillips: 0.327/0.288

Dustin’s drop in BABIP is related to his LD% dropping from ~20% to ~16%. Also, this season his GB% is up 11% and FB% is down 6%. It seems that Dustin is not hitting the ball with as much power this season.

Brandon has seen a spike in his BABIP this season, with no real change in his batted ball distribution. Actually, his LD% percentage is at a career low. I expect his BABIP and therefore his AVG to regress lower as the season goes on.

Team Effects (Batting Position/Team R/G)
Pedroia: 2nd /4.2 R/G (8th in AL)
Phillips: 2nd or 4th /5.2 R/G (2nd in NL)

Dustin is hitting high up in what is supposed to be a high powered lineup. It is just not clicking yet this season. It may have got started in the last week or so, but no one expected them to be in the bottom half of the league offensively

Phillips started out the season batting 2nd, but has moved into the 4th spot in the last 14 games. He is going to get plenty of chances to drive in runs while batting clean up in the NL’s 2nd rated scoring offense.

Overall, both players have similar skills sets and were considered a couple of the top rated 2B coming into the season. Right now though I would take the Phillips heads up against Pedroia this season, even though there looks to be a correction in Phillip’s AVG in the future. Pedoria’s lack of power (decline LD% and FB%, increase GB%) and doubling of his K% leads me to believe that he may not be as productive as he has been in the past.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

7 Responses to “Head to Head: Pedroia vs Phillips”

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  1. John K says:

    GB% rising should increase BABIP

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  2. I really liked your article and I shared with my friends in my facebook account ..you have a nice blog your blog is very nice。

    Wow, very nice photos you have there. Makes me want to visit Cebu for the first time. Nice site.

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  3. Mark says:

    Shouldn’t the rate stats in the second table not be expressed as percentages? Is that supposed to express that Phillips has a 3% probability to hit a HR in each of his plate appearances? That doesn’t quite seem right to me. Interesting analysis otherwise.

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  4. chrisb says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I still don’t have the urge to visit Cebu.

    But I have the urge to hang onto Brandon Phillips in a league where all the sharp 2Bs are locked up and the young ones leave a lot to be desired. Anyone care to speculate on how well Phillips ages through the 2013 season?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      I am actually just finishing up an article on aging curves, so I could give you a decent idea.

      I looked at similar players in SB and HR and Age. The players were on average better players, but are declining faster than the general population.

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      • chrisb says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Sounds interesting, Jeff. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

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      • chrisb says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        It’s worrying that his SB total dropped noticeably last year. And maybe more so because he got caught like never before. His success rate dropped to 57 percent.

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