Not one thing stood out about Shane Victorino’s 2011 season and, in many ways, that is a good thing. Victorino has consistently put up very good numbers at a premium position for the Phils for six-full seasons now and is about as complete of a position player that the Phillies currently have on their roster.
Victorino’s exceptional first-half play earned him a trip to Arizona to represent the Phillies in the All-Star Game, but for most casual fans, he went unnoticed. With column after column devoted to debating the worth of the Big Piece, the excitable Flyin’ Hawaiian was in contention for the batting title entering September, posted a career high slugging percentage 44 points higher than his previous best, and his defense returned to career best levels that helped him win the Gold Glove in 2008.
WAR is a stat that really helps give worth to players like Victorino; players who excel at a little bit of everything at positions where offensive production is at a premium. Victorino’s 5.9 WAR was good enough for 8th in the NL and best in the Phillies line-up. His UZR/150 of 5.7 was nearly as good as his 2008 Gold Glove-earning 6.5 of 2008. Sadly, Victorino’s most memorable defensive play of 2011 may have been his backwards throw in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Victorino improved on an uncharacteristically mediocre 2010 by turning more of his fly balls into hits. His flyballs once again increased in 2011 but his BABIP and K% dropped and his average, on-base percentage, and slugging rose dramatically. He showed an improved eye, walking 9.4%, almost a full percentage point better than his previous career best.
Vic missed some time in 2011 for a sprained thumb, assorted injuries, and his memorable role in the August 5 fracas with the Giants. He unfortunately ended his terrific campaign with a thud, hitting just .186 in September. 2011 was also the first season since 2006 where Victorino stole under 20 bases (25). The decline in steals likely was not injury related and but probably due to either Davey Lopes exist or an evolving skill set as the Flyin’ Hawaiian gets older. His 16 triples did tie Jose Reyes for the Major League lead so I am leaning more so with the former than the latter. Victorino had six hits, including a double, in 19 at-bats for the Phils in their five- game, NLDS loss to the Cards.
Victorino enters 2012 with many non-performance related question marks surrounding him. 2012 is the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s last arbitration eligible year and will be eligible to become a free agent after the season. With this, the Phillies are put in a very precarious position with no clear in-house center field option available and a team looking to get younger forced to make a decision about giving a long-term deal to a player entering the 2013 season at age 33 who is putting up All-Star production in center field.
Grade: 8.5/10 – Victorino looked to be a fringe MVP candidate entering September, combining strong outfield play with speed and power. September slowed him down but his bat was one of few that was alive for the playoffs.