Happy 37th birthday to one of my favorite baseball players, Shane Victorino.
The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” was a fun player to watch. Personally, I liked him because he was 5’9”, like me (although he is slightly faster), and he played the game with passion. Also, when he was with the Padres as a rookie in 2003, he threw me a baseball when I was sitting in right-center field at Qualcomm Stadium as an 11 year-old Padres fan. I still have that ball.
Victorino hails from Wailuku, Hawaii. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 1999. He then came to San Diego via the Rule 5 draft after the 2002 season. In that 2003 year, he played 36 games for the Friars. He was still learning how to be a big leaguer as he hit .151, but he stole seven bases and played a good outfield. The tools were definitely there.
Unfortunately for the Padres, as it happens far too often, Victorino blossomed after his departure. He was returned to the Dodgers the next season and then the Philadelphia Phillies picked him up via the Rule 5 draft after the 2004 season. He wouldn’t move again for almost eight years.
Victorino was a two-time MLB All-Star for the Phillies. He hit over .280 in five of his eight seasons there. He stole at least 34 bases four times as well. Of course, most remember his time in Philadelphia for aiding them in their World Series championship run of 2008 and then helping them make a second consecutive World Series appearance in 2009.
In that title run of 2008, Victorino played 146 games and hit a then career-high 14 home runs with 36 stolen bases and a .293 average. He had a 107 OPS+ and was clearly one of the reasons why those Phillies won the title. His success that year didn’t end in the regular season. He scored five runs, collected 14 hits, and two home runs with 11 RBI in that postseason run. He was also Gold Glove outfielder. He posted a +10 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in centerfield.
That next season he was even better. In the regular season, he hit 13 triples, which led the majors, stole 25 bases, and hit .292. He hit three homers and hit .368 in the NLCS against the Dodgers.
He was also an All-Star in 2011. He led the majors in triples once again with 16. He had a .847 OPS and 130 OPS+. Not bad for a little speedy guy.
In 2012, he started out once again with the Phillies. He was his usual self. He stole 24 bases with nine home runs in 101 games. Then it was clear the Phillies were beginning their decline and it was time for Victorino to go elsewhere. He was dealt to the Dodgers .
His time with the Dodgers was short-lived as he signed with the Boston Red Sox that next season. All he did was post a +24 DRS in right field in 110 games for Boston in 2013 on his way to his second World Series ring. He helped with a go-ahead grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Tigers. The dude was just clutch. He won one of his four Gold Gloves that season.
Victorino last played in 2015 for the Red Sox and Angels. However, he is not “officially” retired. When you think of former Friars, the name Shane Victorino usually doesn’t come to mind. He is a member of the Alumni Division and we wish him a happy birthday.