Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips Key to Club's Recent Success

Scott L. HutchinsonCorrespondent IJune 16, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 27: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds waits to take the field during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park on May 27, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips didn't get off to the hot start he hoped for in 2012, but as May turned to June something seemed to click for the two-time All-Star.

After recording only five home runs and 25 RBI through May 30, Phillips has been on an absolute tear this month, clubbing four home runs to the tune of 15 RBI in just 51 at-bats.

Even more importantly, the 30-year-old Silver Slugger is batting .353 in June and has finally given the surging Reds a legitimate clean-up threat behind Joey Votto. For the majority of the season, opposing pitchers have been able to dodge Votto's red-hot bat, pitching around the former MVP in order to limit his run-producing potential. Now, however, Phillips' improved play has all but eliminated that option, allowing Votto—and the team as a whole—to explode offensively.

Additionally, with third baseman Scott Rolen set to rejoin the club in the days to come, Phillips could potentially return to the leadoff spot where he may be able to provide Votto with even more RBI opportunities.

While a recent All-Star vote count showed that Phillips was still in hot contention with both Atlanta slugger Dan Uggla and Miami's Omar Infante for the National League's starting second base spot, the three-time Gold Glover seems to be gaining a leg up with his recent surge.

Considering the big-time money Cincinnati dealt out to both Phillips and Votto this offseason, seeing them both take the field come All-Star Week would be an awfully promising sight for everyone involved with the Reds organization.