Player Profile: Shane Victorino is one of the biggest gamers in major league baseball. His reputation as a hustle player and positive clubhouse influence precedes him. He also has a knack for getting big time pressure hits in the postseason. Prior to coming to the Red Sox there was some question as to whether Victorino’s skills were declining after struggling his last season (2012) in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But Victorino bounced back nicely in his inaugural season in Boston and showed he still has a lot left in the tank. He also augmented his reputation as a clutch postseason player..
2013 Season and Recent History: Victorino’s 2013 stat line of .294/.351/.801 with 15 HR and 61 RBI was right in line with his 10-year career norms but he did it in only 122 games due to a series of nagging injuries that kept him out of the lineup from time to time. His hamstring was the most troublesome, causing him to abandon switch hitting after the All-Star break. But Victorino was brought to Boston to be a clutch run producer and leader. He clearly showed that by becoming more of a power hitter when hitting exclusively from the right side. He also played in Fenway’s spacious right field, which can be tricky for most players to cover, while Jacoby Ellsbury patrolled center field. Victorino played right like the natural center fielder he is and it gave the Sox a significant defensive advantage throughout the season with the team, in essence, being able to play two center fielders in its outfield and cover so much extra ground. But Victorino’s two biggest moments came in the post season.
The first was his go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 6 of the ALCS. It put the Red Sox up 5-2 over Detroit and sent the Red Sox to the World Series.
The second came in the bottom of the third inning in World Series Game 6 as Victorino launched a bases loaded, 3-run double off the Green Monster to put the Sox up 3-0 against rookie Michael Wacha. That shot kick started the Sox as they closed out the Cardinals that night for the championship.
2014 Outlook: With Ellsbury’s departure in free agency there is some question as to where Victorino will play in 2014. It is likely that he will return to right field if Jackie Bradley, Jr. can step up and assume Ellsbury’s vacancy in center. GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell would prefer to keep Victorino in right field so that the Sox can again enjoy that tremendous defensive advantage in the outfield. He may also figure in as the team’s new lead off hitter. But regardless of where Victorino plays he will continue to be a clubhouse leader and positive influence on some of the younger players coming up through the system. Expect Farrell to lean on Victorino a lot as the team develops Bradley into a full time player.