Shane Victorino is one of those types of players that if you see him every once in a while, it is difficult to appreciate how really special and dynamic of a player he is. Boston Red Sox fans had seen him every so often when he played with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers and he seemed like a fairly decent player, but when he signed with the Red Sox this past off-season, Red Sox Nation didn’t see the acquisition as particularly big news.
As a matter of fact, some fans thought that Victorino was overpaid, considering he had signed a three year, $39 million dollar contract and hadn’t had the best 2012 season. He was a natural centerfielder playing right field at Fenway Park, one of the toughest defensive tasks in all of MLB. There seemed no reason to think that this would go particularly well.
Needless to say, Victorino has been an absolute steal, perhaps the best free agent pickup for any team. He currently is hitting .292 and has eleven home runs so far this season. In Tuesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, he went three for three with seven runs batted in. He has had a scorching August where he has batted .313 with six home runs. He also has stolen seventeen bases to date and provided the Red Sox with a lot of energy batting second. I have said it before and I will say it again, he has been everything that Carl Crawford was not when he was here in Boston and came at a much better price. He also has been a very positive influence in the clubhouse. Having Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup has given Boston two legitimate speed threats.
But what seems to make Victorino the most special is his defense. Quite simply, he may be the best right fielder that Boston has had since Dwight Evans and that is even including the strength of their arms. He has played a Gold Glove caliber right field and has run down some hard hit balls you felt that he had absolutely no business catching up to. If you are into statistics and sabermetrics, Victorino has saved plus-20 defensive runs, which makes for an outstanding season with the glove. There has been many a Red Sox game where if a batter hits a ball to right field, Victorino will grab the ball and fire it into first to attempt to get the out. I don’t believe he has gotten anyone out yet doing that, but that shows his defensive capability, energy and hustle. He may be the most important and irreplaceable player in the Boston lineup.
So much for worrying about Victorino being overpaid, because he has been worth every penny.