The Dip: Two Players, Too Much Alike

This is “The Dip,” a column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy.

If you look at the statistics of Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins over the last three years or so you will realize that they are strikingly similar. In fact, their offensive games nearly mirror one another. In a given year, you can expect 10-15 hrs, 60 rbis, .270 and 40 SBs from each one. Now these are good numbers, especially when you consider that the two don’t play what are generally considered to be big offensive positions. When you add the fact that both Rollins and Victorino are exceptional defensive players, one would think that any manager would be happy to write their names on the lineup card everyday. But not so fast.

On most of the teams in baseball, both of these guys would be asked to be offensive stalwarts for their teams. But the Phillies are not most teams and they’re offensive engine for the last three years have been Utley, Howard, and Werth. That said, the guys surrounding those three should be focused on getting on base, getting in scoring position, and helping to get other guys in scoring position. Guys like this were once referred to as “tablesetters”. The Phils need Rollins and Victorino to be those guys but their games’ just are not suited to that role.

Residing in the shadows of the traditional measurable offensive statistics are the duo’s inability or unwillingness to do the other things a strong offensive team requires from the top of the lineup. Neither of them walk. Neither of them bunt. Their OBPs are atrocious. Neither of them are effective at moving runners. Groundouts always seem to go the shortstop when a guy is on second with no outs. Flyouts never seem to go far enough to turn into sacrifice flies. Jimmy’s season high in SFs is 7. Shane has 11…for his career. In short, when these two are not hitting balls in the gaps when they can run real fast and get triples, while everyone stares agog admiring the raw talent, they do very little to move a lineup along and create RBI opportunities. While their numbers may look good at the end of the season, Shane and Jimmy spend as much of their at bats being anemic as they do being dynamic (I know they don’t rhyme, but its close). For this reason, one of them has got to go.

There is a lot to praise about their respective skill sets. They are not bad offensive ball players. They are not going to change nor should they be asked to. I write here that the repetition of their inadequacies in this lineup contributes greatly to the bouts of stagnation this offense suffers through every season. When we hear the common refrain that this team “can’t play small ball” and “if they’re not hitting home runs, they’re not scoring”, you can point directly at Shane and Jimmy as the main reason why that is. I hate the phrase “productive out”, but I guess its part of the lexicon now, so that said – these two don’t make any. To me, this lineup would work a lot better with a guy who might give you less of the speed and the triples and the SB’s but would instead offer you a higher batting average, better “situational hitting”, and the desire to work a walk. A manufactured run counts just as much as a home run and the Phillies don’t get them. They need more scratch runs if they are going to avoid the prolonged slumps that have plagued them in recent seasons and allow them to realize their full offensive potential.

Who to trade? Because he plays the most expendable position of the two, and because the Phils would get good value back, and because the Phils wouldn’t have to eat any cash: I trade Shane.

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