Brandon Phillips has a front-row seat for shortstop history – Orange County Register

OAKLAND — Omar Vizquel and Andrelton Simmons are two of the best defensive shortstops in baseball history.

The link between them is Brandon Phillips.

The Angels’ new second baseman first reached the majors in 2002 as a 21-year-old with the Cleveland Indians. Phillips was in the big leagues over parts of three seasons with the Indians, most of the time playing across the bag from Vizquel.

Now 36, Phillips is getting the chance to play with Simmons, who he has admired from across the field for years.

“It’s nice to play next to that filthiness,” Phillips said.

How does Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner who is in the Hall of Fame discussion on his defense alone, compare with Simmons?

“They are different,” Phillips said. “Omar was very fundamental. He made the plays. He did everything just perfect. Simba, I just started, he has a lot of flair. He doesn’t do it on purpose. He has that little swag to him. It’s normal. They’re both great, but they’re totally different.”

Phillips said he’s been happy to be back across the bag from the shortstop, after finishing his time with the Atlanta Braves playing third base.

“It’s like when you leave home and you’re ready to get back,” said Phillips, a four-time Gold Glove second baseman. “To get back, it’s like your first love. It feels good to go back to your first love and enjoy the time you have.”

Phillips made a couple defensive mistakes in his first two games with the Angels, taking too long to throw to first and missing a throw on a stolen base. He’s since been better, including a diving stop and a behind-the-back flip to start a double play on Monday.

At the plate, Phillips had just four hits in his first 21 at-bats with the Angels.

“People who watch the games know I’m hitting the ball hard, right at people,” he said. “It will be nice to have more success. I know I’m going to get more hits. I know I’m going to get key hits for this team. I know it’s going to happen.”

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