The Los Angeles Angels signed Brett Phillips to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. It was a bit surprising to see the Angels give Phillips an MLB deal, practically guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot, but it did make sense at the time.
The Angels have an outfield that will be out there virtually every day with Taylor Ward in left, Mike Trout in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right. All they needed from their fourth outfielder was a guy who can play good defense in center field and provide speed off the bench. Brett Phillips fits that to a tee. This allowed players like Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell to get regular at-bats in the minors (which Adell in particular has taken advantage of).
Phillips making the Opening Day roster over a player like Moniak who was unbelievable in Spring Training was a move many Angels fans criticized, but it made sense at the time and after watching Phillips in his first start of the season, it continues to make sense.
LA Angels outfielder Brett Phillips showing why Perry Minasian signed him with big game
Brett Phillips appeared in five of the Angels first 11 games but didn't start a single one. The Angels had Ward, Trout, and Renfroe in the outfield every single day. Phillips came in as a defensive replacement in close games twice, a pinch runner once, and as a defensive replacement to give Mike Trout a breather in two blowouts. He has a very defined role on the bench. He's there to play defense and run the bases. He had one plate appearance in the first 11 games.
With the Angels not having a day off after tomorrow's off-day until May 11th, the Halos decided to give Shohei Ohtani the full day off and push Trout to DH duties for the series finale against the Nationals. This allowed Brett Phillips to get his first start as an Angel.
Phillips had his fingerprints all over the Angels' series-clinching victory. In the third inning, he drew a walk, stole second, stole third, and scored on a Keibert Ruiz error trying to throw him out. Phillips manufactured the Angels' first run of the game by himself.
In the fourth, the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out. Gio Urshela and Logan O'Hoppe both struck out, so the Angels were in serious danger of not scoring a run after loading the bases. Phillips had other ideas, as he worked a seven-pitch at-bat to draw a walk and drive in the Angels' second run.
Last season, Phillips went hitless in 34 at-bats drawing just one walk against lefties. Today he walked twice against Nationals starter MacKenzie Gore and was right in the middle of two of the three runs the Angels would score.
In the top of the sixth inning, Phillips made an unbelievable catch, taking extra bases (if not a home run) away from Keibert Ruiz. He was responsible for two runs they scored and helped potentially take away a run in the field as well.
He won't get many starts, but Phillips showed exactly why the Angels signed him. This team lacks a major speed threat on the basepaths. Phillips is that. He's also an elite defender at a premium position. He fits the fourth outfielder role that this team needs to a tee.
He won't hit much at all, but the Angels won't need him to. The Halos have one of the league's best offenses. He can make an impact in the field and on the bases, which he did in this victory.