Shane Victorino is fourth in hits (136) on his own team. He’s third in runs scored (80), second in stolen bases (21), and fourth in home runs (14). He’s played in 119 games out of a possible 157 at this point of the season and has 160 less at-bats than Dustin Pedroia. He’s not exactly the picture of perfect health, battling hamstring issues all year that forced the switch-hitter to bat exclusively right-handed during the second half of the season.
But he’s a huge reason why the Boston Red Sox have an outside shot at 100 wins, a major factor to why they’re the American League East Champions, and he’s definitely the best free-agent acquisition of this past offseason.
Victorino signed a three-year, $39 million contract last December. Some were outraged, confused as to why the Red Sox were willing to spend so much money on an outfielder trending towards the downside of his career, especially after the Carl Crawford fiasco.
All the naysayers were proven wrong. Maybe the Red Sox knew something some didn’t or maybe they just got lucky. Regardless, the signing of the 32-year-old outfielder went from overpaying to a bargain in just a few short months; those who thought the Sox should pony up $10 million more per year for Josh Hamilton must feel silly now.
Victorino — in the month of August when the Red Sox were still in a tight race with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East — was a huge factor in the Sox’ ability to distance themselves from the rest of the pack. The Flyin’ Hawaiian batted .328, scored 24 runs, and smacked seven home runs and drove in 22 (both career bests). He battled his hamstrings throughout, often grimacing running down balls in the outfield or running out ground balls in the infield, but he was able to grind it out, and started rallies, made big plays defensively, and got huge hit after huge hit.
Take nothing away from Francisco Liriano, Sin-Soo Choo, or Zack Greinke, but Shane Victorino has been the biggest free-agent acquisition in MLB this year.