Braves veteran infielder Brandon Phillips joins 2,000-Hit Club

The Atlanta Braves have grown accustomed to milestone celebrations.

Veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips became the third player in the past two years to tally his 2,000th career hit in a Braves uniform, reaching the milestone on Wednesday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies. The three-time All-Star singled off Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff in the first inning for the latest highlight in his 16-year career.

Phillips is the 12th active player to reach 2,000 career hits and already the sixth to join the club in 2017: Matt Holliday, Jose Reyes, Victor Martinez, Nick Markakis and Adrian Gonzalez accomplished the feat earlier this season.

“It means I’ve been playing for a minute,” Phillips said after the game. “Just going through the grind. Just saying that anything’s possible, just go out there and just play the game the best way you know how not worrying about stats. Try to be a team player.

” … Now I got a thousand more hits to go.”

Phillips, who was drafted by the Montreal Expos out of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., in 1999, joined his hometown team over the offseason following a decade of excellent production for the Cincinnati Reds — a franchise that watched a young infielder traded for both stars (Bartolo Colon) and unassuming prospects to be named later (Jeff Stevens) blossom into one of the best second basemen of his generation.

On top of four Gold Gloves, Phillips tallied 1,774 of his 2,000 hits in a Reds uniform.

Since joining Cincinnati in 2006, here’s where Phillips ranks among MLB second basemen (per FanGraphs):

HITS 2nd
WAR 6th

Still, entering a contract year with Cincinnati looking to hand more playing time to former Braves prospect Jose Peraza, the Braves were able to acquire Phillips at a bargain-basement price following a January car accident involving utility option Sean Rodriguez and his family.

The payoff for Atlanta’s front office was immediate.

The 36-year-old infielder bounced back from his worst season since leaving Cleveland by posting a .293/.331/.427 slash line that hovers above his career averages with 11 home runs and 10 stolen bases. After opening the season alongside Dansby Swanson at second base, the arrival of hyped rookie Ozzie Albies — the prospect who relegated Phillips to “placeholder” status from the start — meant a transition to third base earlier this month, a position he had not played since the minor leagues.

Phillips has performed admirably at the hot corner as well, setting himself up for an interesting free agency given the newfound positional versatility (if he chooses to embrace the value boost past the 2017 season). Since moving to third base, he’s hit decently well while not committing a single error and breaking even in defensive runs saved.

Phillips follows in the footsteps of Markakis, another metro Atlanta product, and former Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski to collect his second grand of base knocks during Atlanta’s rebuild. Markakis reached the milestone against All-Star Alex Wood and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 4.

“It just says a lot about his career,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Phillips. It’s just amazing to me, when Nick (Markakis) got his, just how long you gotta play this game, how hard it is and such a grind to get 2,000 hits.”