- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
While Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has maintained strong fantasy value this season, he’s done so with some unusual early-season statistics, and according to him, he has manager Dusty Baker to thank and blame for that.
Through seven weeks, Phillips, annually a consistent producer in each of the five standard fantasy hitting categories, has been producing quite a bit more in a few of those stats, and less of another, and apparently it’s by choice. Bumped to the cleanup spot in the batting order shortly after teammate Ryan Ludwick was injured on Opening Day, Phillips is piling on the runs batted in. He loves them, too, and wants to lead the league. I caught up with Phillips at Citizens Bank Park Saturday night after his team waxed the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0, and he discussed how his plate approach is so much different because of the spot where Baker bats him.
“My job now is to get RBI -- it’s my No. 1 thing,” said Phillips, who is getting so many of them that he’s one off the NL lead and remains on pace for 133 of them. “That’s my goal, to get 100. When I hit fourth, that’s my job. I don’t really worry about my batting average or my on-base percentage -- it’s just getting the guy in [to score]. Having that approach has been working so far. I’m a free swinger. I like hitting fourth. It’s fun. Your job is to do one job.”