Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/16/13
When the Red Sox signed Shane Victorino this offseason, a buddy of mine sent me a text reading, “Enjoy three years of frustration with that guy.”I’ve never watched Victorino play on a daily basis, but I think I have a good idea what my Phillies friend means. In two of the last three years, Victorino has failed to bat .260 or post an OBP of .330. While he doesn’t strike out much (career 11.6%), his high infield fly rate (career 15.1%) and low line drive rate (career 18.5% and declining) show that Victorino makes a lot of poor contact. Despite his speed, he hasn’t posted a BABIP over .300 since 2009.Boston is paying him to be their every day right fielder, and despite the declining skill set he’s always been able to play a lot of games. While the rate stats won’t be great (BA, OBP), he should be able to maintain above average production in the counting categories.At a GlanceStrengths: R, SBNeutral: HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Desmond Jennings (TB)Likely scenario: Angel Pagan (SF), Ichiro Suzuki (NYY), Norichika Aoki (MIL)Worst-case scenario: Coco Crisp (OAK)Shane Victorino 2013 Fantasy ProjectionI think Victorino will fit in well as Boston’s number two hitter. His high-contact game should play well with the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury on base, but it’s clear that Victorino isn’t the player he was just three years ago. Because he struggles to hit line drives at a rate anywhere near league average, Victorino probably won’t hit for a great average. If you can stomach sub-par home run production and a poor average in exchange for great stolen base potential and a nice amount of runs, then Victorino is your man.Now for what it’s worth, MLBDepthCharts.com has Victorino listed as the team’s fifth hitter with Dustin Pedroia batting second. From what I’ve heard manager John Farrell say, Pedroia will probably be the team’s primary three-hole hitter with Jonny Gomes moving up to that spot against left-handed pitchers. That means Victorino should be the team’s primary second hitter, though the order of Boston’s lineup is something to watch this spring if you’re a Victorino owner. From a fantasy perspective there’s a big difference between batting second (high runs, low RBI) versus batting fifth (moderate runs, moderate RBI).As for Victorino’s skill set, I can’t really think of a great mid-to-late round player to pair him with (i.e. someone with plus power and a plus batting average) because most of those players get drafted early on, but we have Victorino pegged to finish the year 81st overall despite his current ADP of 125.7.
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