2012 Dodgers in Review #18: LF Shane Victorino

November 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Posted in 2012 in Review, Shane Victorino | Leave a comment

(w/ LA) .245/.316/.351 235pa 2hr 15sb 1.1 fWAR D

2012 in brief: Unpopular deadline day import was a huge disappointment in left field.

2013 status: Free agent, and hopefully one who suckers some other team into a multi-year deal.

******

Remember, when Shane Victorino arrived on July 31, there wasn’t exactly a high bar for him to clear. He merely had to be better than Bobby Abreu, who was DFA’d to make room, and in that – if only that – he was, especially on defense. It really can’t be overstated just how bad left field was this year and how badly an upgrade was needed, which you’ll remember from our welcome to Victorino that day:

As I noted yesterday, left field is an absolute disaster right now, one that often gets lost among the James Loney & Juan Uribe infield atrocities. So make no mistake, whatever you think of Victorino, he is an upgrade both offensively and defensively over Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera and friends. That says a lot more about the incumbents than it does about Victorino, of course, but how much of an improvement really depends on which Victorino we’re going to be seeing. He’s in the midst of the worst year of his career, as his power and on-base skills have each largely disappeared, though he’s still effective on the bases (24 steals in 28 tries). This year, as over his career, he’s been crushing lefties, but the less said about his performance against righties the better. Since I really, really doubt he was acquired to be a platoon outfielder, that’s something we’re going to have to live with.

Still, the team is better with him in the outfield than it was without him, so that’s something.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, “being better than Abreu” is about the only positive thing we can say about Victorino’s time in LA, and you can follow his decline along with his position in the batting order. For his first 23 games as a Dodger, he was the leadoff man, tasked with getting on base so that heart of the order could take advantage of his speed to move him around the bases. It didn’t work; he hit .258/.314/.371 in that initial stretch at the top. Okay, fine, leadoff might not be right; what about second? On August 28, Don Mattingly placed Mark Ellis at the top and bumped Victorino down, hoping it would spark something. It did, but only more fan frustration when Victorino then hit .222/.306/.259 in 14 starts there.

On September 13, after we joked that Victorino could never really quit the Phillies, Mattingly all but admitted defeat by moving Victorino down to sixth in the order. All we could do was laugh at how bad it was:

Don Mattingly, to his credit, is finally accepting that he needs to do something to shake up the order, and whipping boy Shane Victorino has finally been bumped down to sixth, where he’ll strand the heart of the order when they finally decide to get on base and then ensure that Luis Cruz & A.J. Ellis bat with no one on base. (Joking, but only sort of.)

It didn’t matter. Over the final 16 games of the year, he hit .246/.328/.404, once even hitting as low as seventh, and while you can live with losing Josh Lindblom & Ethan Martin (and, ha, Stefan Jarrin, but who cares) to upgrade a position during a playoff push, it’s hard to stomach when the return ends up being so eminently disappointing.

Once again, I can’t help but point out that before the season, Victorino thought he might be in line for a five-year deal. On the wrong side of 30, coming off a poor season, he’ll be lucky if he can find three. Let’s just hope that it’s some other team who hands it to him.

******

Next up! You know what? I still like Bobby Abreu!

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