Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Mlb_may_17_6a4b

As both managing editor Dave Cameron and large swaths of the internet have noted, outfielder Shane Victorino has been traded by the Phillies to the Dodgers. Despite the fact that he’s probably a superior defender to Matt Kemp, it’s unlikely that Victorino will push the incumbent Kemp to left field. (This is what’s known in legal terms as the Derek Jeter Precedent.)

It stands to reason that, owing to how Bobby Abreu has played a considerable amount of left field for the Dodgers this season, that installing Victorino has the club’s full-time left fielder will make a not-insignificant contribution merely in terms of runs saved over the Dodgers’ final 58 games of the regular season.

“How much of a difference, though?” the curious reader might be wondering. “This much of one,” the irresponsible author is now answering, in the form of the following, mostly haphazard calculations.

To estimate the hypothetical distribution of playing time in a Victorino-less left field over the next 58 games, I’ve simply used the distribution of left-field starts over the Dodgers’ first 104 games (using Baseball Reference’s very helpful defensive lineups page). To calculate “true talent” defensive-runs estimates (Def/150), I’ve aggregated (haphazardly, of course) a number of defensive metrics (UZR, DRS, TZ) from recent years. In cases — like with Jerry Hairston, or with Victorino himself — where a player’s left-field defensive sample is smallish, I’ve looked at other outfield defensive numbers and adjusted for a move to left utilizing the defensive positional adjustments used in calculating WAR.

Here’s what we find, using that same haphazard methodology, the Dodgers producing defensively from a left-field arrangement that doesn’t include Victorino:


Player Def/150 % Games LF Runs Bobby Abreu -8 40% -1.2 Juan Rivera 0 22% 0.0 Tony Gwynn 20 13% 1.0 Jerry Hairston 8 12% 0.4 Other 0 13% 0.0 TOTAL — 100% 0.1

And now here’s Victorino by himself:


Player Def/150 % Games LF Runs Shane Victorino 12 100% 4.6

Haphazard Conclusion: Victorino is worth something close between four or five extra runs — or, roughly half a win — defensively over the final third of the season.


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