One of the key ingredients to the Red Sox’ championship recipe last season was the team’s durability. Besides the closer role, the Sox did not have to rotate multiple players at any given position and were not sent scrambling to the open market due to a catastrophic injury to one of their stars. This year has begun a little differently with Will Middlebrooks already on the DL, David Ortiz battling through some leg issues and Shane Victorino not having played a game in the regular season as of yet.
While he’s not going to win any league MVP awards, the loss of Victorino has been a major blow to the Sox lineup thus far. Victorino batted a solid .294 last season with 15 HR and 61 RBI. He only struck out 75 times, and was a tough out throughout the season including the playoffs, in which his contributions are well-documented. With Daniel Nava struggling at the moment batting .138 with a .219 OBP (Victorino’s OBP last season was .351) and his counterpart Jonny Gomes not faring much better, Shane would slide in so very nicely to the leadoff role for the Sox. He would be a much needed spark at the top of the lineup. Despite the Sox not exactly struggling to score runs, a team always seems to click when the top of the order keeps it moving.
It seems that the top of the order is screaming out for the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”, yet one of the most important aspects of Victorino’s game is his versatility. Red Sox manager John Farrell could easily slot Shane in any spot in the batting order, and he would be just fine. He didn’t exactly tear up the base paths last season with 21 stolen bases, however his base running in general and his instincts are far superior to those of Daniel Nava.
The Red Sox haven’t looked the same at the start of this season. Blame it on a World Series hangover, blame it on fatigue or blame it on things just not going their way so far, but Victorino’s veteran leadership, positive attitude and reliability could be just what the Red Sox need to help turn things around. I am not ready to give up on Daniel Nava by any means and I love the intangibles that Jonny Gomes brings to the table, but an outfield of Jackie Bradley in left, Grady Sizemore in center and Shane Victorino in right has me salivating! So Sox fans, THIS IS MY MESSAGE TO YOU-OO-OO…let’s hope the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” is on the field and banging into walls soon.