Phormula: Victorino is Best Fit for the ASG

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, July 09, 2009 09:46 AM | Comments: 17
News, Statistical Analysis

According to the numbers, Pablo Sandoval deserves to be an All-Star. If not for Charlie Manuel’s slight favor to Ryan Howard, Sandoval would have made the roster.

As an unbiased baseball writer, I cannot tell you that Shane Victorino deserves to be in the Midsummer Classic more than the Giants portly third baseman does, but there is no denying that Victorino has had a first half worthy of winning the final vote.

Simply put, Victorino is having the best season of his young career. He is experiencing career highs in on-base percentage (.369) and slugging percentage (.464.) He is on pace to set career marks in runs and RBI, as well, even in a season where the hitter in front of him has struggled to get on base.

The most evident signs of Victorino’s development, however, are his walk and strikeout rates. The Flyin’ Hawaiian is walking more and striking out less than he ever has, two necessities for a hitter in the two-hole. As a result of getting on base more in front of the power-packed middle of the Phillies lineup, Victorino has scored 60 runs, a number second to only Albert Pujols on the NL leader-board.

Not only has Victorino been putting the ball in play more than years past, but he has been making better contact. His line-drive percentage this season is 23%, by far his best figure since becoming a full-time starter. In 2008, it was 19%, and in 2007, it was 16.6%. Victorino has cut down on fly balls, too, going down from 36% in 2007-08, to 32% in ’09.

Think of the two things we always clamor for Jimmy Rollins to do – walk more and hit fewer balls in the air. Well, Victorino has indeed recognized the importance of plate discipline and putting the ball on the ground in order to utilize his blazing speed. He has 12 infield hits this season and is on pace to beat last year’s mark of 23. Victorino has improved his patience and the type of contact he makes every year. You can’t ask for much more than that.

In addition to improving every aspect of his game at the plate, Victorino is, as usual, playing tremendous defense. He is a vacuum in center field, always closing quickly on balls hit to the gaps and preventing singles from turning into doubles because of his speed. This is evidenced by his zone rating of 11.29%, tops among major-league center fielders. Zone rating represents the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his specific defensive zone. In Victorino’s case, he has the highest ZR in the most expansive zone on the field. The next highest center fielder is Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, who’s zone rating is 10.89%.

All of these numbers are those of an All-Star center fielder. Victorino doesn’t have the sexy power numbers that Pablo Sandoval has, but he would be much more valuable to the NL All-Star team than Sandoval. Victorino could be a great late-inning pinch-runner/defensive replacement, and if this game really “counts,” he adds more to the team than a hard-hitting, weak-fielding corner infielder.

The All-Star game determines home-field advantage in the World Series, so we should be putting homers and RBI aside in favor of what’s best for the team.

In this case, that would be Shane Victorino.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    With Beltran out it should go to Victorino as he is a center fielder. I think what happened last year with Fukidomi who owes his all star appearance to the japanese more than the cubbies faithful might happen again this year but with Sandoval who in addition to Giants fans will collect votes from all of Venezuela (probably under fear of late night visitations by Chavez’s secret police). Eventhough Sandoval deserves the nod, Shane’s #1 ZR rating makes him the more complete player. Remember the All-Star game we lost in the late innings with Chubby Caberara defending 3rd while Scott Rolen, arguably one of the best fielding 3rd basemen of his day sat on the bench watching a ground ball he would have kept in he infield.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    “Think of the two things we always clamor for Jimmy Rollins to do – walk less and hit fewer balls in the air.”

    I assume you meant strike out less or walk more?

  • Posts: 0 philsphan

    Haha yea Maverick,

    I want J-roll to walk more

  • Posts: 0 Joey

    Victirino will make the team anyway with Beltran out- regardless of the results of todays vote. thats why you should vote for sandoval, its like watching a lava lamp play third base. its mesmorizing.

  • Posts: 0 CZ

    Don’t forget that Matt Kemp also plays CF and is pretty deserving for the All-Star game. Just because he might finish 3rd or 4th in the vote doesn’t mean he might not be selected as Beltran’s replacement. Remember, Torre is on Manuel’s coaching staff.

    Keep voting for Shane!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 william

    since when should a team ever put RBI’s to the side isn’t that what counts most at the games end RUNS BATTED IN !! yes victorino deserves to be at the ASG it’s howard who should not have been picked over Pablo.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    Victorino is leading the vote at this point!! Keep voting!!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    William… that comment makes no sense, considering Howard leads the team in RBI’s… he’s actually 3rd in the NL in RBI’s..

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Howard does not deserve to be there. Yes, Howard can get streaky in a month and hit homers. It hasnt happen of yet. He is not the player I would of signed for long term. He does not scare me when coming to bat. Werth has similar numbers with a better batting average. I cant stand watching Howard at the plate. Swings at anything. Albert is light years ahead of him.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Chuck P, I hope you’re correct on the latest vote count for Victorino. It would be great to see Victorino voted in by the fans rather than chosen by the manager as a substitute for the injured Beltran. I think Victorino would have greater satisfaction knowing he had the support of the fans.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    RBI’s aren’t always good statistic, because it’s dependent on where you’re hitting in the lineup. Shane is hitting behind our #8 hitter, our pitcher and our (until recently) slumping leadoff man, so he’s not going to get a lot of RBI’s compared to say, Howard, who’s hitting behind two guys with .300 batting averages.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    *a good

  • Posts: 0 Morris Buttermaker

    I can’t wait for 4. I am so tired of voting. I have voted at least 500 times. Who knows how many. 3 hours today and probably 2 hours each day since Monday.

  • Posts: 50 Jason Bintliff

    Avatar of Jason Bintliff

    I hear ya. My numbers on key board are getting worn out from entering the code so many times.

    Corey… Awesome article!!! Couldn’t have made a better argument. the numbers don’t lie.

  • Posts: 0 Nationals#1

    Jeff, Pujols is light years ahead of everyone. i have no problem with ryan howard being 2nd place behind pujols, especially if he’s on my team. i don’t think there’s a more valuable 1b in the league behind pujols or ahead of howard

  • Posts: 0 JW

    Charlie M. would make a gracious N useful call choosin SANDOVAL for Beltran. NL is overloaded with 1st basemen (the Howard choice), but I think has only 2 third basemen. I understand there are more than enough outfielders,esp. now Victorino’s in. Give a nod to how close the “record” vote was- no one’s gonna whine about picking a .330 hitter with 13 HRs. AND in a pinch, Pablo can fill as a CATCHER(?!), he was SF’s #2 catcher early in season. Having another catcher’s a big deal if it goes into extra innings, like holding out an extra inning pitcher…no more TIE game endings!

  • Posts: 0 JW

    C Manuel

    Charlie M., what a “homer”. Adding the rest of his outfield when the NL has plenty of OFs. If Werth was so good, why wasn’t Manuel brave enough to pick him as one of the final 5 to vote on?  If he really believes a .260 hitter can be better than a .300 hitter, we have some we’ll be happy to trade for Ibanez. As a Giants fan, I’m willing to say OK, Victorino and Sandoval were close, very close, and both deserving. So the “Bran Torino” campaign worked better than our “Vote for Pablo”. His justification for Werth, sounds like so much crap. Yea, he took into account what he saw in the last 2 weeks, but what about the other 15 or so teams x 25 players he DIDNT SEE in the last two weeks? Some complain about the ALG being more than someone having a good year, but a star people want to remember they saw sometime in a (hall of fame) career. (i.e. D. Jeter).  Manuel’s taking it the other way…”who’s having A GREAT TWO WEEKS, that I’m happening to see?”. Hey, if we’re lucky he can pull all these ALG fan voted hacks, and all those .300 averages, after the first inning, and replace em with PHILS lineup #2-#6…great opportunity to make history!

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