Tony Phillips is certainly more known for his time on the A’s, where he spent nine of his 18 big league seasons. However, he had nearly as many at-bats in his five years in Detroit – and he was much better.
Phillips made his big league debut with the A’s in 1982. He remained with them until 1989, even hitting a World Series home run against the Giants.
He signed as a free agent with the Tigers before the 1990 season and spent five years in the Motor City. In that time he slashed .281/.395/.405 with 502 runs scored, 61 home runs, 70 stolen bases and more walks (519) than strikeouts (480).
He led the league in runs scored in 1992 with 114. His finest season in Detroit, and maybe altogether, was in 1993. The 34-year-old switch hitter slashed .313/.443/.398 with a 130 OPS+ and a 5.6 bWAR. He did not make the All-Star game, but nevertheless finished 16th in MVP voting.
Phillips led the league in at-bats in the strike-shortened 1994 season while posting a .409 OBP. He was traded at the start of the 1995 season to the California Angels in exchange for outfielder Chad Curtis.
Phillips went on to play for six different teams until finishing his big league career in 1999.
All told, Phillips accrued 2,023 hits, 1300 runs scored, 160 home runs and 177 stolen bases. His 50.8 bWAR ranks just behind Kirby Puckett and ahead of Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Nellie Fox and Ralph Kiner.
He was extremely versatile, finishing his career with 831 games in the outfield, 782 games at second base, 429 at third base, 294 games at shortstop and even five games at first base.
Phillips passed away in 2016 from an apparent heart attack. He was 56.
Next up is another center fielder who was a big part of a World Series team: