Keith Anthony Phillips
April 25, 1959
None (Roswell High School, Roswell, GA)
1978, First Round, 10th pick, Montreal Expos
.266 Avg, 160 HR, 819 RBI, .374 OBP, .763 OPS, 1319 BB, 109 OPS+
Career Leader Board
All-Time: 35th in Walks (1319)
1992: First in Runs (114)
1993: First in Walks (132)
1996: First in Walks (125)
Best Tiger Season
Tony the Tiger’s .443 OBP in 707 plate appearances during the 1993 season was amazing. He hit .313 with seven homers, 57 RBI, and an OPS+ of 130. He led the AL in walks that year with 132. Phillips scored 113 runs as well.
Overall, he personified what the perfect leadoff hitter should be that season, something I’ve been thinking a lot about in all the Johnny Damon mania lately. Phillips finished 16th in the MVP race that season.
In 1993, Tony was the first player to have 100 or more hits, walks, runs, and strikeouts in the same season with fewer than 10 homers. He's still the only player to do so, for what it's worth.
Reason for Being on the List
Tony Phillips is simply the best leadoff hitter the Tigers have had in the past 25 years. Lou Whitaker and Curtis Granderson are remembered more fondly by Tiger fans, but in Tony’s time in Detroit, he had a .395 OBP, averaged 100 runs a season, and had a combined OPS of .800. Outstanding.
He did everything you want out of an unselfish leadoff hitter. The man got on base and got runs on the board. It sounds simple, but in modern baseball, chicks dig the long ball and the little things are overlooked. You don’t get many like Tony Phillips.
It’s even more amazing when you consider that Tony didn’t mind playing a different position every day if he was asked to. He logged a lot of time at second, short, third, DH, and outfield during his tenure. Imagine Ryan Raburn if he was good at everything...that was Tony Phillips.
What Happened to Him?
In April of 1995, Tony was traded for the California Angels’ Chad Curtis. Curtis was a younger, cheaper player, but in retrospect, it was a bad deal for the Tigers. Phillips would hit a career-high 27 homers that year for the Angels.
After that season, he joined the Chicago White Sox as a free agent. That didn’t last long as Tony was traded back to the Angels in May of 1997 with Chad Kreuter in exchange for a young catcher, Jorge Fabregas, and relief pitcher, Chuck McElroy.
Tony’s career was winding down as he was released by the Angels in April of 1998. A couple months later, he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he only played 13 games. Phillips was on the move a month later when the Jays traded him to the New York Mets for a guy named Leo Estrella.
That December, Phillips re-signed with his original MLB team, the Oakland A’s, where he would play his final 106 games and have a respectable 108 OPS+ in 484 plate appearances.
Info ripped off baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia