It goes without saying, but the 2012 season for the Phillies has been a fairly odd one. Not odd in the “that's kind of funny” way, but just odd in the way things are working out for the team so far.
For example, if you went back to 2009 and told Phillies fans that Carlos Ruiz would be their best player, that Cole Hamels would be out-pitching both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and that a 22-year-old rookie second baseman – one with a career minor league OPS of .613 – would be their best infielder, you'd probably be called a crazy person (along with a whole host of other adjectives).
But so far, that's how things have been working out so far for the Phillies, thanks to injuries and many other issues. As a result, guys have had to pick up the slack where others have faltered. Without Ryan Howard or Chase Utley, the onus would be on the likes of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino to lead the charge.
So far, neither has been the pillar of production that any of us would have hoped. Yes, Hunter Pence is leading the team in homers, but his .799 OPS isn't exactly good for a middle-of-the-lineup guy. And Shane? He hasn't done much to help state his free agent case at the end of the season. That is, until recently, when he has been a crucial cog in the Phillies offense.
Since the start of the month, Shane has a line of .312/.390/.505 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, and 14 RBIs. It's a far cry from his April performance, when he hit .an abysmal .228/.276/.380.
And yes, there is some danger in using arbitrary endpoints to evaluate players, because anyone can have a good few weeks, but it's very fair to say that his May performance is closer to his actual skill level than his April performance. Shane won't OPS near .900 for the rest of the season, but he certainly won't fall off completely.
The key takeaway here is that, despite the fact that the Phillies are still momentum-less near the end of May, they are starting to hit the ball. And if they want to get back into the race, they are going to need to keep hitting the ball, and in order to do that, they are going to need Shane to continue to come up big.