Or is that the victori? Either way, it’s definitely there, and you don’t even have to squint too hard to see it.
When the OF rankings were posted yesterday, I was aghast to see Shane Victorino ranked a lowly 52. Ok, maybe aghast is a strong word. But he was definitely behind a handful of guys I think he should be ahead of. And in the spirit of open discourse and wanting to justify my own love for the Red Sox outfielder, I set out to validate my disagreement.
The first stop on my journey was Zach Sanders’s 2013 end of season rankings, where Victorino ranked not 52nd, but 26th. That’s right, over the last four months, during which time Victorino did nothing but get healthy, he dropped from a clear #3, borderline #2 OF to a guy who should only be starting in 5 OF formats.
Of course just because a player had a great 2013 doesn’t mean we should expect the same in 2014. So let’s look at what we SHOULD expect.
Interesting. Looks like Steamer and ZiPS both project similar playing time but significantly worse production for Victorino. An inflated BABIP in 2013 is one possible explanation for this. His .321 isn’t that crazy a number, but compared to a career .299 BABIP, it is definitely high. However, he also posted a 22.4% line drive rate, the third time in his career he cracked 21%. The other two times his BABIPs were .317 and .315. Still not quite .321, but if you are going to assume BABIP regression, you have to figure that line drive rate is coming back down.
There is also a jump in HR/FB% to a new career high. But if you look at Victorino’s spray charts, he gets his power down the lines and his new home park is particularly friendly when you turn on the ball.
Then there is the playing time issue – Victorino managed just 122 games last year, and while he has not been the model of health in his career, 122 games was still his fewest since becoming a regular in an MLB lineup. Projecting 145-150 games for him is not unreasonable based on his track record. And if you bump up those ZiPS and Steamer counting stats to project a typical number of games (rather than the career low projected by Steamer), they start to look a lot more like his 2013 numbers.
Plus, there is a good chance Victorino will find himself leading off a potent Red Sox lineup this year, which should increase his PA per game, bumping up his opportunity to accrue counting stats. It may hurt his RBI totals, but he wasn’t knocking in a ton of runs last year either.
When I started this exercise, I expected to be able to confidently crow that Shane Victorino is a 5 (ok, 4.5 – he gets RBI but not enough) category filler who may not rise to superstar levels in anything, but moves the needle across the board. I expected to tell you to go out and bid and draft and acquire this sneaky top-30 OF. But the reality is, the warts are real and are worth tracking.
But you should also recognize that the upside is there. Maybe he keeps up the LD% and the BABIP only stumbles a bit. Maybe he adds a few steals thanks to leading off and getting more opportunities. Maybe he plays closer to 150 games than 120. None of these are hard to see happening.
10 HR and 15 SB is almost a given, and a 15-20 season is far from out of the question. If he can repeat his 2013 – and given some additional playing time, I certainly that is possible – he would again be a top-30 OF. To fall outside the top-50 would be a significant tumble and that feels more like a floor than a projection, at least to my eyes. And if you can buy him at a #52 OF price, you’ll have a chance to turn a tidy profit.
Print This Post