Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Second Half by Shane Victorino

When Shane Victorino joined the Red Sox this offseason the fan base was a bit split and felt he wasn't the answer.  Obviously what happened with Carl Crawford was fresh in their mind and Victorino seemed very similar.  He then started the season and struggled through several injuries it seemed things could fall off the rails fast.

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

Even though Victorino is still dealing with some injuries he is out there and showing off with some of his best defense in one of the toughest right fields in baseball.  Not only has he played sparkling defense, but his offense has been pretty much right on the mark for what you would have expected.

In his career Victorino has averaged 12 homers per season as well as 28 steals.  Nearing the end of the season he has currently totaled 15 homers and 21 steals.  Those totals have been in only 115 games though when he has averaged 150 games a season during each of his full seasons.  Only injuries have limited him from posting one of his best all around seasons offensively.

So over the full year even with so many games missed Victorino has been keeping his end of the deal.  His WAR in only 115 games stands at 5.4, which is ninth in the American League.  If you expanded that over 150 games his WAR would be 7.0 putting him at fourth in the AL.  The interesting part is if you breakdown his season into two parts.  His second half, when he has had better health, has been one of the best in the American League.

After 51 games played in the second half Victorino has been only second to Mike Trout according to WAR.  Tied for fourth among AL outfielders with 10 homers and sixth in stolen bases with 10.  His defense according to UZR has been second among all players in the AL at 11.2 in the second half.

Victorino has been one of the 2 or three best players in all of the American League for the second half and done it across all aspects of the game.  His power, speed, hitting and defense have been among the best in the league.  When you rank with Mike Trout in anything you can be sure your doing things right.

The best news about all of this is Victorino has not been posting a lot of fluke numbers.  His ISO in the second half is .213, which is higher than his career, but he's posted a full season at .212 as recently as 2011.  His speed is on his normal pace as well as walks and contact.  I don't think he'll post anything like this for a full season next year, but he is consistent and very good.

The one number that will surely decline given enough time is his defense.  The 24 UZR he has posted for all of 2013 is almost double his next closest full season way back in 2006.  Fenway gives him a lot more room to cover and save a few more runs compared to the small outfield in Citizen's Bank Park, but I don't think it should jump that much.  Some of the improvement is also moving from a full time center fielder to right field.  Looking forward I would expect solid defense in center when Ellsbury is out and great defense in right, but more like 10 runs saved and not 25.

The Red Sox will be counting on Victorino to be a huge reason they do well in the playoffs and if Jacoby Ellsbury ends up leaving after the season he will be asked to do even more in 2014.  I don't think Victorino will be getting many more mentions along side Trout again, but his second half has been a large part of the Red Sox success.

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