Shane Victorino’s One-Dimensional Bat

The latest rumor around Shane Victorino comes from Cincinnati, where one Reds insider claims the club turned down a deal that would send Logan Ondrusek to Philadelphia straight up for Victorino. Ondrusek appears a decent long-term bullpen piece, but for a team in the Reds’ position — fighting for the playoffs and with a mediocre 102 wRC+ out of its left fielders — Ondrusek seems like a pittance to pay for Victorino.

But then again, maybe the Reds didn’t want a short-side platoon outfielder. That’s what Victorino has been this season, hitting a tremendous .312/.393/.570 (159 wRC+) against lefties but flailing against right-handers with a .234/.294/.328 (68 wRC+) line. Victorino has presented to buying teams a switch-hitter in name only. If the Reds report is true, his one-dimensional bat is scaring teams away.

Victorino has never been a typical switch-hitter. As opposed to a zero-split we see with many switch-hitters, Victorino has always favored hitting right-handed, posting a career .381 wOBA against lefties as opposed to .322 versus righties. He walks less, hits for significantly less power, and has a 17-point lower BABIP as a left-handed batter. This is who Victorino has been for the last four seasons:

Victorino lost the ability to use left field as a left-handed batter in 2010, when he posted a .191 wOBA (8 wRC+) to the opposite field. Since then, Victorino has just eight extra base hits to left — seven doubles and a triple — with five of them coming in the 2011 season. This year, the power to the pull field has disappeared as well. For the first time in his career (outside of 2003’s cup of coffee) Victorino has a wRC+ below 100 as a lefty going to right field, at 73.

Instead of lofting the ball for doubles and home runs, Victorino is pounding the ball into the ground on the right side for outs. His 68.2% ground ball rate is a career high and his 11.4% line drive rate in the split is a career low. And the fly balls aren’t leaving the yard — his 16.7% HR/FB ties a career low (2006, 2008, and 2009 as well).

Victorino still has real value to offer a team, but he hasn’t looked like an everyday major league player this season. His deficiencies as a left-handed batter are getting too widespread to ignore, and it’s unlikely teams will be willing to give up major-league ready talent for a platoon outfielder. The Phillies likely thought they had set their sights plenty low with a reliever like Logan Ondrusek, but they might have to dig deeper if they want a return for their center fielder.




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44 Responses to “Shane Victorino’s One-Dimensional Bat”

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  1. Bruce says:

    Or, as is more likely, the Reds are posturing, like every team does at this time, hoping the Phillies will drop their demand- much like apparently the Pirates and Dodgers are doing. At this point, the Phillies don’t have a need to trade Victorino, so getting anything worse than Ondrusek should not even be a consideration. You are clearly underrating Shane here- who obviously has killed his shot for a large contract, but is nowhere near as bad as you made him out to be- the statement that he hasn’t looked like an everyday major league player is ridiculous.

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  2. Kyle says:

    The fact that Ruben Amaro and the Phillies even considered trading Victorino for Ondrusek straight up makes me want to slam my head into a wall.

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  3. Nik says:

    Guy on pace for a 3.4 fWAR season isn’t a regular player? Same guy who put up 5.9 fWAR last season and was dealing with a sore wrist mot of this season?

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  4. Dustin says:

    As someone who can’t hit left or right handed, I’ve often wondered about switch hitters who are clearly bad from one side or the other. If Victorino is a .234/.298/.328 hitter batting as a lefty, why not try seeing what kind of platoon split he would run by abandoning switch hitting? I remember JT Snow abandoned switch hitting with decent results, OPSing over 100 points higher as a lefty vs LHP than as a righty vs LHP. He still showed a 100+ point plattoon split, but that was markedly better than the 200 point split he showed as a SH.

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    • Mcneildon says:

      It appears that he did do this in 2003 during his brief time as a Padre. He had 66 plate appearances as a RHB vs RHP and zero plate appearances as a LHB.

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  5. Sean says:

    Unabashed Phillies homer right here, but this proposed trade is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard in baseball. Absurd proposal and absurd for the Reds to turn it down. Great defensive player in premium position coming off of a 5.9 WAR season which saw him deep in the NL MVP race for most of the season. I don’t understand this at all. Maybe Ondrusek has a really hot wife that RAJ wanted around? I’m pretty sure that’s why he extended Kendrick. I wish I was kidding more than I am, I really do.

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    • tyke says:

      here’s why it isn’t absurd: as much as the reds need a leadoff hitter, one of their strengths is their bullpen. to trade away a mainstay of this year (from a depleted staff, mind you), is silly, despite the obvious need at the top of the order and the skillset victorino brings.

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  6. Jim says:

    While Vic has never really been a very good LH hitter, he was playing through a wrist injury for much of the first half that greatly affected him when batting from that side.

    This is also a very heavy buyers market, and Rube settling for a dime a dozen middle reliever for Vic would be selling extremely low. If Dempster can fetch a top 50 prospect with so many pitching options on the market, Vic should easily get one too as the only true CF/leadoff hitter type available.

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  7. Nik says:

    BTW, Jon Fay reported that it was Ondrusek PLUS a prospect for Victorino. Phillies aren’t going to give Victorino up just for a mediocre reliever. I don’t think he’s going to get traded period.

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  8. dudley says:

    uh, jack–aren’t you making the small sample size mistake? don’t handedness splits take a long time to stabilize? victorino’s career wOBA against RHP is .322: not world-beating, but not bad, either. shouldn’t savvy GMs put much more weight on that figure than the current year’s figure?

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  9. Andrew says:

    Victorino is, on his current pace, worth an additional win over two months to the Reds. Using last year’s pace, he’d be worth two. Given where the Reds are in the pennant race, these would be valuable wins. Ondrusek is literally a replacement level player over the three years since entering the league. Victorino in this ever so horrible year where he’s not an everyday player (based on a short sample size platoon split, which every reader knows here is not particularly predictive) has been worth two more wins than Ondrusek has been in his whole career. This is not a reasonable trade proposal and the report that the Reds turned it down is not plausible. To say they’d be correct to do so is baffling.

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    • tyke says:

      the reds have a depleted bullpen and i to trade one of their bullpen mainstays for this year would be silly, despite the obvious upgrade to the everyday lineup

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      • Kris says:

        The Reds do not have a depleted bullpen. Hoover is in the minor leagues waiting for a callup, and so is Donnie Joseph, and both are probably better than Ondrusek, who is almost certainly the worst reliever currently pitching for the Reds in an otherwise very, very strong bullpen. Well, not counting LOOGY Bill Bray and his 4 post-injury innings.

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    • Ruggiano's Pizza says:

      Or maybe last year was a career year at the plate for Victorino. He is on the wrong side of 30 as well. His 2 WAR this year is a complete mirage, propped up by ephemeral fielding & baserunning components.

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      • Mcneildon says:

        Last year was, without question a career year for Victorino. But I don’t really see how his 2 WAR is a mirage. His fielding and baserunning measures are right in line with what you’d expect from him at this point in the season, based upon the numbers from his career. I mean, they could be completely off-base due to some small sample size issues, but if someone has been rated as an above-average fielder and baserunner throughout his career and the metrics say he is this year as well, I don’t know why you would assume their illegitimate. If he was 34 or 35, ok maybe, but he’s 31.

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      • Mcneildon says:

        Ugh. I meant they’re, not their.

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  10. Chuck says:

    It would be difficult to hit with a one-dimensional bat. I mean shit, all you get is a measly little line?

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  11. aj says:

    He’s a 2 month rental. That’s why his value sucks ATM. Phil’s might as well get what ever they can and resign him if he’s still in their plans. His ROS ATM doesn’t look to be a world beater so expecting much if anymore then Seattle got for ichiro is nuts.

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  12. ausmax says:

    I guess fangraphs forgot about this article from last year:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/shane-victorino-is-better-than-ryan-howard/

    He’s clearly having a down year this year, but he’s one season removed from being among the top 5 center fielders in baseball. I don’t think there’s a particularly good reason to think he isn’t worth more than a middle reliever, even for two months.

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    • tyke says:

      again, look at the reds bullpen. 3 of the projected opening day guys are on the DL. they need to keep the depth there to have a shot at the division.

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      • hk says:

        That’s fine. If Victorino is not worth more than a decent middle reliever to the Reds, there should be no deal. If the Phils can’t fetch more than that, they’d be better off keeping him and making the qualifying offer. If he accepts the offer and his wrist is healthy next year, he could produce 3.5+ WAR for $12M. If he declines the offer, the Phils get a compensation pick that should be worth more than a mediocre reliever.

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      • YiYang says:

        Aren’t the Phillies going to be or already over the luxury tax threshold?

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      • Mcneildon says:

        Yeah, I think the luxury tax concerns are the main reason they’re trying to dump Victorino and Blanton. If they can get under the tax for this season, they won’t get charged a 34% rate next season when they will almost certainly go over it.

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      • hk says:

        @ YiYang,

        Yes, they are over and probably will be next year unless they trade Pence and turn RF over to Dom Brown. However, their managing supposedly said that they will exceed the tax if necessary and, it seems like it will be necessary due to the many horrific contracts that RAJ has given out. That being said, they will still need a CF next year and Victorino on a one year deal at $12M seems like a reasonable value.

        Put it this way, if the Phils plan to go cheap next year at either RF or CF, I would sooner see them trade Pence now (presumably for a return greater than what is being reported that Victorino will fetch), give RF to Dom Brown, keep Victorino (rather than trade him for a mediocre reliever) and make a qualifying offer to Victorino in the off-season. If Victorino takes it, fine. If not, the compensation for Victorino will exceed what is being offered in a trade.

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      • JIm says:

        Phillies President Dave Montgomery said yesterday that they don’t care about exceeding the luxury tax threshold this year or next, and that they will not do any salary dumps. If they are trading anyone they want value back.

        Also trading Vic for a middle reliever would be pointless since the Phillies already have such a huge surplus of young arms already. Half of the starting rotation on their AAA squad are relievers that have nowhere else to go.

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      • mcneildon says:

        Team presidents say things like that a lot regardless of whether it’s the truth because they don’t want people thinking that they’re dumping salaries, even if it’s a wise strategy. He could have been telling the God’s-Honest-Truth, but you can’t put much trust, if any, in a statement like that from a team president.

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  13. bill says:

    Victorino is top 10 in OF WAR from 2010-12, and he’s not an everyday player?

    Even taking only this season into account, he’s likely to be at least a 3 win player, which is surely an “everyday player.”

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    • Andrew says:

      Remember that he plays for the Phillies and so is assumed to be terrible despite any and all evidence to the contrary.

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  14. Spike says:

    not sure any teams really need a CFer heading into stretch drive. Maybe Nats but Bernadina has been ok. Can’t think of another.

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  15. aj says:

    They changed the comp pick rules, i would be shocked if he nets them any compensation picks. Even if he does qualify no GM would touch him after that. Not worth the risk of an older player with downward trending stats for a multi year deal and losing a now EXTREMELY valuable draft pick for a 1year deal is insane. I’m a fan of his but realistically they aren’t going to win this year, if they can get a possible bullpen arm for next year with years of control for him i would jump all over it with the financial situation they will have the next few years. Resign him in the off season and go from there basically get a cost controlled arm for free.

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    • nik says:

      You’re crazy if you think Victorino can’t get a multi-year deal. Bottom 10 teams wouldnt lose a first rounder anyway.

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  16. Harry says:

    Phillies are desperately trying to get under the luxury tax, and Victorino makes the most sense to go.

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  17. Phils_Goodman says:

    If the value is this bad, it makes no sense to trade him.

    Kind of like how everyone was low-balling the A’s for Josh Willingham last year, so they just held onto him and took the draft pick.

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  18. D Brown says:

    Pirates turned down Victorino for Brad Lincoln.

    Phillies are considering for Jared Hughes plus a mediocre prospect.

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