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Should You Fly High with Shane Victorino?

Shane Victorino made a great leap forward in 2007, doubling his HR output and seeing a nine-fold increase in his SB totals. He kept those gains in 2008, although in over 117 more plate appearances. Fantasy owners are big believers in Victorino, as he now holds an ADP of 51 according to the latest update over at Mock Draft Central.

Victorino, while no slouch in other categories, gets most of his value from steals. Over the past two seasons, he ranks 10th overall in SB with 73. So the big question for him going forward is how likely is he to maintain his current level of production.

In 2007, Victorino was safe on 37 of 41 attempts for an outstanding 90 percent of his stolen base tries. Last year his success rate fell to 77 percent, still a fine number but off considerably from just a season ago.

The four projection systems that predict SB all show Victorino with less than 30 in 2009. CHONE gives him 23 SB, which is the 46th-best mark in the system. ZiPS has him down for 24, which is tied for 62nd-best in the majors.

Marcel, which uses a weighted average of the past three seasons, gives him 26 SB which ties him for 13th-best. The Bill James system gives him 27 steals.

A 10-bag drop in stolen bases would have a huge impact on Victorino. Those who spend a late fourth or early fifth-round pick on him are betting that he can beat the projection systems. This is not an unreasonable wager, he has done it the past two seasons, but a pick that early values Victorino at the top of his range.

Last Player Picked has Victorino as the 43rd-best hitter in fantasy baseball last year. If he matches what he did last year, he gives you equivalent value for his ADP. But there seems to be very little upside for Victorino there and the real possibility that he turns into a disappointment if he fails to crack 30 steals.