There was a time where Tiger Woods announcing that he was skipping a major would require a post, but at this point I assume Tiger is out until we hear otherwise, and I’m going on with my Shane Victorino post. The Flyin’ Hawaiian hopped a plane back to Philly today, running the streak of under-reported Phillies injuries to 235. We’ll see if this hinders Shane’s attempt to be the last chance All-Star Vote winner. I assume Phillies fans are at work stuffing the virtual ballot boxes.
I wanted to talk about Victorino even before his eventful weekend, but it is convenient that he had such an all encompassing Shane weekend. While the long tenured members of the Phillies line up (Howard/Utley/Rollins) deal with various issues and the new blood mostly fails to pick up the slack, Shane Victorino has been the Phillies’ most productive offensive player this year. Even with a DL stint, he leads the team in runs scored, he’s the only regular hitting .300, he’s 2nd on the team in homers and leads in the much ballyhooed OPS stat. The Victorino vs. Howard argument is the epitome of old-school vs. new school, but regardless of how you come down, the fact that Shane is in the discussion is an indication of the year he is having.
I don’t know that I could find the exact quote, but I know on at least one occasion I said Victorino is the position player the Phillies could least afford to lose. Not only is Shane contributing on offense, but he’s out there in center field where the Phillies are shockingly thin. Michael Martinez’s RBI on Monday aside, the guy shouldn’t be on the team. Their 2nd best center fielder was just recalled from Lehigh Valley, and he hits .220. We’ve almost accepted the lack of production coming from the corner outfielders, but for center field to become an out as well would render a mediocre offense completely stagnant. And, whether or not you think Shane deserves his Gold Gloves (he probably doesn’t, not all of them), compared to every other outfielder on the team aside from Mayberry, he looks like a 22-year old Andruw Jones out there.
So, that’s all the upside for Victorino and the reasons we should hope his early return to Philly is just the team showing some caution, but things with Shane are not always positive. Like I said, the weekend in Toronto was a microcosm. He hit, he pushed things on the bases, but there were also those two plays that made your head explode. Consider me part of the camp that thinks Shane essentially injured himself, because he had no idea what he was going to do when he caught that fly ball and changed his mind about 11 times in that one second. Thus the fumbling, the trip, and the flight home. He also got stone-cold picked off 2nd base, which is the latest in a long line everyday base running blunders.
How can Victorino be so productive with such a low baseball IQ? It’s a question I struggle with all the time. It divides the fans as well. Some people just like that Shane is personable and hustles. Others think he could be that much better if he just got a clue.
The announcers did some deep and thorough massaging of Chase Utley’s base running during the same Toronto series. And, for once Wheels made a halfway decent point. It’s something that shouldn’t stick out so much, but it does, because almost nobody can run the bases. There’s plenty of speed in the league, but that isn’t the point. We’re talking about guys that don’t freeze for 5 seconds on every ball in the air. Some might call it instincts. I’d call it paying attention. It’s a minor detail, kind of like running out ground balls, that Utley masters while just about everyone else on the team does not.
Anyway, the reason I’m talking about all of this is because I’m wondering if you can win if Shane Victorino (warts included) is your most productive offensive player. What if Howard doesn’t have that dominant six-week stretch this year? I think Chase Utley might make this discussion moot in another month, but what if I am wrong? We know Shane is a very nice complimentary piece. If he’s hitting 2nd, you’re in good shape. If he’s hitting 7th, or is your fourth best offensive player–you’re fine. But, what about if he’s the true engine? I’m not so sure, and that’s assuming he can stay healthy.
Five Tickets To Allentown: Vance Worley Logistical Edition:
- Michael Martinez
- Danys Baez
- Raul Ibanez
- Drew Carpenter
- Scott Mathieson
Quiz of the Day: Expensive Big Colleges. Category: Big School Environment/Liberal Arts Price Tag. My Score: 11/15.