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Milwaukee Brewers: Should Brett Phillips start in 2018?

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Brett Phillips
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Brett Phillips /
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Brett Phillips was one of a number of September call ups in 2017. Milwaukee Brewers fans had already seen him with the club earlier in the year, but his latest stint in the big leagues has been his best.

Phillips has been the best performing of the Milwaukee Brewers call ups in September by far. He’s hitting .300 with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs, and four stolen bases. His .391 on-base percentage is superb, and he’s forced his way into the lineup nearly every day.

Didn’t the Brewers have a good center fielder?

Incumbent starting center fielder Keon Broxton has seen his playing time dwindle due to the hot stretch that Phillips has enjoyed. Phillips originally spotted Broxton in center for his defensive abilities, mainly his 80-grade arm. And Broxton is no slouch defensively either.

But Phillips has just been too hot for Craig Counsell to go with Broxton in center field lately. The Maverick has been presented with an incredible opportunity after Lewis Brinson had his season end with a hamstring injury. He’s now getting the full opportunity to show the Milwaukee Brewers what he can do at the big league level.

Give credit to Phillips. He’s made the most of this opportunity and he could lock up a starting spot in the Milwaukee outfield in 2018. He’s now hitting like he was when the Brewers first acquired him from Houston in 2015. He had a down year in 2016, and the addition of Brinson that year pushed him down the depth chart.

But now he’s back to his hitting ways. And as a plus defender, providing offense just makes him so much more valuable. He could be Carlos Gomez 2.0 and that’s what the vision of his future was back when Milwaukee originally acquired him for Gomez. Phillips has that potential and he’s showing it now.

But should Phillips start next year?

He is doing everything he can to lock down a spot next year, which could lead to some roster shuffling this winter. There are only three starting spots in a major league outfield. Ryan Braun will have left field locked down as long as he’s a Brewer. Domingo Santana has had an incredible breakout season and looks to have a spot. So, that leaves center field where Broxton has the weakest grip on a starting spot in the outfield.

Let’s take a look at the month of September for both Phillips and Broxton.

Brett Phillips

40 ABs, .300/.391/.425, 12 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 4 SB

Keon Broxton

41 ABs, .195/.313/.220, 8 H, 1 2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 7 BB, 2 SB

As you can see, Broxton has gone into another cold stretch, giving Phillips the prime opportunity to take over in center field. With an unexpected playoff push this season, we could see a shift in focus from GM David Stearns this winter. Securing more room in the in the outfield for Brett Phillips needs to be a part of the off season plan.

Phillips’ arm also would fit well in right field and with a player like this, Craig Counsell and David Stearns will find a way to get Phillips some regular playing time. He’s earned it. Counsell has leaned on Phillips this month. He’s been a major part in the Milwaukee Brewers staying in the race as long as they have.

Next: How did Craig Counsell come to manage the Brewers?

September call ups are a perfect way for young prospects to try to show the big league club that they belong in the team’s future plans. Brett Phillips has done that and more this month. He’s taken full advantage of the opportunity. Brewers fans can look forward to seeing him more often in 2018.

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