Every day this month, we here at Philthy Stuff will be counting down the New Year's resolutions of each member on the Phillies, and what they can do to guide this team back to October. Next up, Shane Victorino.
In the not-too-distant past, before the Phillies began to run the table in the National League East, Shane Victorino was thought of as nothing more than the fourth outfielder-slash-pinch-runner extraordinaire. Everyone knew he had the tools to play the game, but it wasn't until 2006, when the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu, that the Flyin' Hawaiian made his mark on the team.
Since then, he's been a steady addition to the lineup, blending speed, some power and decent plate discipline, while providing solid defense in the outfield with a powerful right arm that has saved the skin of many a pitcher's earned run average.
While Shane has mostly been in the background, it was in 2011 that he stepped up as the team's most valuable offensive player, as he lead the team in slugging percentage, OPS, triples, and OPS-Plus, while finishing just behind behind Carlos Ruiz in batting average and on-base percentage. When guys like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard struggled, it was Victorino who grabbed the bull by the horns and got the job done.
And coming into 2012 -- the final year of his three-year contract -- Victorino has a bit of work to do if he wants to lead the offensive charge for the Phillies.
Left Isn't Right: It's not uncommon for switch hitters to favor one side more than the other, and typically, it's their natural side that they have the most success with. This is no different for Shane, who has made an absolute killing against left-handed pitching.
A career .279/.344/.438 hitter, Shane has taken over twice as many at-bats from the left side of the plate, where he where he just falls a bit short of his career numbers (.274/.336/.415 with 44 home runs). However, from the right side, he is an entirely different hitter, as he has pummeled left-handed pichers to the tune of .297/.371/.507, with 34 home runs, in half the chances.
It would be nice if we could see how Shane would perform exclusively from the right side, but given the likelihood of that happening (it's somewhere around zero), we'll just have to hope that his left-handed bat can catch up to his right-handed bat.
Stay Healthy: Injury concerns are always an issue for any team, regardless of age, but it's crucial for Shane to avoid any prolonged injuries in 2012, especially if the offense has to rely on him as much as they did in 2011. With Howard out for the foreseeable future and Utley and Placido Polanco both seemingly perpetually banged up, the team cannot afford to see their best offensive player hit the DL.
Get Mic'ed Up: One of the best things about the 2008 World Series DVD is the outtakes of Shane (who was wearing a microphone) in the dugout and on the field. The guy would never stop talking, and it proved to be one of the most entertaining moments of the 2008 postseason (I mean, after all those other great moments).
In short, I'm proposing that Shane be given his own, in-game talk show. Dig it, he could interview the opposing team's first baseman when he gets on base, he could offer running commentary on whoever is on the mound, and during sweeps week, he could have special guest star outfielders, like Andy Griffith or Frank Stallone. Admittedly, that last one might not work, but you get the idea.
Seriously, Shane is already on Twitter, so the next logical step would be a move to television. We can call it “Off Center with Shane Victorino” or something like that. He can even sell ad space during the commercials to help pay for all these pricey free agents or Cole Hamels' future salary. Think of all that revenue.
Or, he can work on hitting left-handed pitchers better. Whatever works.