A Haphazard Estimate re Victorino, Dodger Left Fielder

As both managing editor Dave Cameron and large swaths of the internet have noted, outfielder Shane Victorino has been traded by the Phillies to the Dodgers. Despite the fact that he’s probably a superior defender to Matt Kemp, it’s unlikely that Victorino will push the incumbent Kemp to left field. (This is what’s known in legal terms as the Derek Jeter Precedent.)

It stands to reason that, owing to how Bobby Abreu has played a considerable amount of left field for the Dodgers this season, that installing Victorino as the club’s full-time left fielder will make a not-insignificant contribution merely in terms of runs saved over the Dodgers’ final 58 games of the regular season.

“How much of a difference, though?” the curious reader might be wondering. “This much of one,” the irresponsible author is now answering, in the form of the following, mostly haphazard calculations.

To estimate the hypothetical distribution of playing time in a Victorino-less left field over the next 58 games, I’ve simply used the distribution of left-field starts over the Dodgers’ first 104 games (using Baseball Reference’s very helpful defensive lineups page). To calculate “true talent” defensive-runs estimates (Def/150), I’ve aggregated (haphazardly, of course) a number of defensive metrics (UZR, DRS, TZ) from recent years. In cases — like with Jerry Hairston, or with Victorino himself — where a player’s left-field defensive sample is smallish, I’ve looked at other outfield defensive numbers and adjusted for a move to left utilizing the defensive positional adjustments used in calculating WAR.

Here’s what we find, using that same haphazard methodology, the Dodgers producing defensively from a left-field arrangement that doesn’t include Victorino:


Player Def/150 % Games LF Runs
Bobby Abreu -8 40% -1.2
Juan Rivera 0 22% 0.0
Tony Gwynn 20 13% 1.0
Jerry Hairston 8 12% 0.4
Other 0 13% 0.0
TOTAL 100% 0.1

And now here’s Victorino by himself:


Player Def/150 % Games LF Runs
Shane Victorino 12 100% 4.6

Haphazard Conclusion: Victorino is worth something between four or five extra runs — or, roughly half a win — defensively over the final third of the season.



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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Bip
Member
Member
Bip
3 years 10 months ago

Matt Kemp says he’d move to left to accomodate Victorino according to dodgers.com. Even if this is true, it seems unlikely it would happen. The article suggested he offered because Victorino hasn’t played in left since 2006. However, I wonder if it comes at all from an understanding that Victorino is a better defensive center fielder than Kemp. If that’s the case, I wonder why they don’t move Kemp to left when the bring in Gwynn as a defensive replacement.

jason
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jason
3 years 10 months ago

If it is true…Maybe cause doing it from the start of the day now daily over the next 60 days is a little different ..just the baseball routine thing. If Kemp does move to RF and Dre goes to LF this move really looks much better

Nathan
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Nathan
3 years 10 months ago

Good on Matt Kemp, seriously. I can understand when players get protective or used to the routine of playing a certain position in the field. But it has to make Dodger fans feel good that Kemp is saying something like this, indicating that he knows his own strengths/weaknesses (not to say he’s a weak fielder, just not as good as Victorino), and wants to see the team get the most out of their players to win games.

LTG
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LTG
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t know about Kemp’s fielding. DRS and UZR are pretty resolute that for his entire career he’s been a below average center fielder. (Of qualified CFs since 2008, he has the worst DRS and UZR.) Does this make him a weak fielder generally? No. He could do well in a corner outfield spot. Does it make him a weak center fielder? Yes.

Problematically, Victorino’s best fielding days are behind him. He’s lost a step and can no longer make up for his bad routes. Of course, he’s still much better than Kemp.

Matt NW
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Matt NW
3 years 10 months ago

$160 million lined up for the bank, not exactly a man suffering from anxiety. Why not shift over to the less demanding position? Answer: some people are sh*tbirds about keeping what is “theirs”… so Kemp seems relatively cool relative to this phenomenon.

Anon
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Anon
3 years 10 months ago

Kemp has his contract. He won’t lose money by moving to a corner OF spot. The only thing that would keep him in CF is ego.

phattonez
Member
phattonez
3 years 10 months ago

So you’re telling me that the Dodgers should have just plugged Tony Gwynn in there and been done with it (before Victorino)? It’s not like any of those players besides Hairston has been lighting the world on fire with their hitting.

TiensyGohan
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TiensyGohan
3 years 10 months ago

It’s an article about defensive value, Phatton.

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