Jonah Keri FanGraphs Chat – 7/5/11

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Jonah Keri is the author of The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First -- now a National Bestseller! Follow Jonah on Twitter @JonahKeri, and check out his awesome podcast.

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Shane Victorino is clearly the best choice for the final NL vote, and this is coming from a Cardinals fan and therefore from someone with an unbiased opinion.

Here’s why:

The Phillies have the best record in baseball, but don’t have the greatest offense this season (yes, their pitching is phenomenal and is winning most of the games, but it takes offense to back up a pitcher. Just look at Felix Hernandez’ stats last season for proof). However, someone has to score the runs. and no one has been giving the Phillies a better opportunity than Victorino.

Leads the team in avg(.303), obp(.376), runs scored(53. Rollins has scored 47 runs but has also had 372 plate appearances compared to Victorino’s 302), and slugging% (yes, higher than Ryan Howard by 52 points at .524! Howard’s slugging % is second highest on the team at only .472!).

He is third in wOBA among mlb center fielders with a .399!

Also:.314 avg, .376 obp .576 slugging, .410 wOBA with the bases empty!

That’s 28 singles, 13 doubles, 7 triples, 6 home runs and 14 walks with only 17 strikeouts in 189 plate appearances with the bases empty this season. Only Jose Reyes is more productive in that situation that early in the lineup!

He sparks the offense! There’s no way the Phillies would be as successful this season without him, considering no other player is coming close to some of those numbers on the team(he’s usually the number 2 hitter, consider that leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins’ obp is only .326, fifty points lower than Victorino!)

Also, Victorino has great plate discipline (27BB / 31K), is a great baserunner (13 steals, 9 triples), and is superb defensively in center field (in all mlb only Denard Span has been more consistent). Plus he can play left or right field, so is more useful and deserving of a spot on an All-Star roster than ANOTHER slow first baseman or three tool outfielder.

He’s the best all-around athlete on the NL final ballot this season. Though the rest of the Phillies offense is sup-par this season, he’s always doing things at the plate and on the basepaths to try to make up for it and give them the best chance to win. Additionally, he has a .376 obp with men on base and a .377 obp with runners in scoring position: talk about consistency! No other player on the NL ballot comes CLOSE as an all-around threat this season.