In 2013, Shane Victorino did something that every struggling switch hitter wishes he had the guts to do — he stopped hitting from the bad side. It’s a concept that seems so simple, but when it forces a hitter to hit same-side pitching the majority of the time it’s not the most ideal scenario.
Let’s take a look at how Victorino has fared against right-handed pitching over last couple of years.
|2010 (as L)||456||8.3||12.7||16.2||.233||.247||.143|
|2011 (as L)||396||8.0||11.6||17.4||.270||.292||.184|
|2012 (as L)||423||7.8||11.0||18.5||.229||.250||.104|
|2013 (as L)||208||5.7||11.4||21.3||.274||.298||.115|
|2013 (as R)||115||2.6||21.7||24.3||.300||.348||.210|
Granted his right-on-right action in 2013 comes with a small sample size alert, but his batted ball stats are far and beyond better than any season he batted as a lefty. Sure, his BB% and K% suffered greatly, but given that it was his first time seeing same-side pitching I’m willing to give him a pass there.
What I’m impressed with is his increased line drive rate, which led to an increase BABIP and batting average, and the increased power.
Overall, this change in approach led to a career high batting average (.294) and if you extrapolate his run totals from the second half over a full 650 PA season, you’d have a .294 hitter with 104 runs scored. So much for this 33 year old being on his way out.
Another aspect of Victorino’s game is his ability to steal bases, however, his 21 SB were well below the 39 he stole in 2012. Taking a look at his run percentages it’s tough to tell which Victorino we’ll see in 2014.
His 20.2 run% in 2012 was a lot more like his earlier years in Philadelphia, but 2011 and 2013 were more conservative. I think Victorino’s run% will fall in between 2012 and 2013 (albeit closer to 2013) as I believe he was held back a bit by a hamstring injury last year.
At A Glance
- Strengths: R, SB, K, 3B
- Neutral: BA, SLG
- Weaknesses: HR, RBI, OBP, OPS, BB, 2B
Players With Similar Fantasy Value
2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection
2014 Projection: 615 PA, .273 BA, 87 R, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 19 SB
Overall Rank: 105 | OF Rank: 35
Still, plenty of at-bats at the top of Boston’s loaded lineup should lead to plenty of runs scored.
Given his success hitting from the right side of the plate you would think he would take that approach into the 2014 season. However, there’s no such guarantee as I’m sure he’s a lot more comfortable as a switch hitter seeing as he’s done that his entire career.
With Jacoby Ellsbury out of town Victorino should see the majority of the time as the Red Sox leadoff hitter although there should be some shuffling around. Still, plenty of at-bats at the top of Boston’s loaded lineup should lead to plenty of runs scored.
While Victorino’s age and reckless style of play makes him a bigger risk for lengthier DL stints than most, but being able to draft an outfielder with 90 R, 15 HR, and 20 SB potential in the middle rounds isn’t something to overlook.
2015 & Beyond
Obviously, Victorino’s days are numbered and relying on him for any type of consistent production past 2014 is a bit premature. I think he’s a great value on a year-to-year basis given that his age will likely make him a draft-day bargain, but there’s something to be said that he will be a free agent after the 2015 season and will likely be delegated to a part-time role in his age-35 season.