Inspired by this post on Beyond The Box Score, I've been playing around with spray charts for different Reds players and I noticed an interesting comparison between Brandon Phillips in 2008 versus 2007. Check it out:
|2008 (balls hit in the air)
||2007 (balls hit in the air)|
They are kind of hard to read, but you can see a larger version by clicking on the image, or after the jump I'll post a larger image that will allow you to switch back and forth between the two.
The big difference that I see is that in 2008, Phillips did not have nearly as much power to all fields as he did in 2007. In fact, it looks like he became more or less a pull hitter at GABP, with 12 of his 13 HR and 8 of his 10 doubles going to left field. In 2007, he had 9 home runs go out from CF to RF. He still only had 4 of 11 doubles to CF-RF, but his doubles are much less clustered than in 2008.
I don't have any solid proof, but I have a suspicion that this is all because BP tried to become a power hitter in 2008, rather than just trying to hit line drives and letting the home runs come as they might. Of course, there is also a bit of luck involved. In 2007, BP really only had 2 warning track outs at GABP, but in 2008, that number jumped to 7. Different conditions on those days and maybe these two graphs get swapped. Either way, I think it is prudent for Phillips to avoid trying to be a pull hitter and try to use the entire field. He had more success that way in 2007 and maybe he can recreate that in 2009.