At the end of last season, Shane Victorino was batting .259 — his lowest average since joining the Phillies back in 2005.
It appeared that Victorino was approaching the beginning of the end to his career; however, the 2011 season has proved that statement wrong…so far.
The ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’ is batting an impressive .324 entering Thursday’s game against the San Diego Padres. His .324 average is second on the team between everyday starters, behind none other than Placido Polanco.
The second subject of this article, Polanco, is batting a team-high .352. Should this be a surprise, though? He did finish with one of the highest averages on the team last season with a .298 average. He has been a fantastic hitter throughout his 13-year career, compiling a career average of .303, and when it comes to situational hitting, there is no one better on the team than Polanco. His three-run home run in yesterday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers saved the Phillies from their first series sweep even though the pitch was considered to be a “pitcher’s pitch” — a cutter low and inside.
“It was a good pitch,” said Polanco, according to MLB.com. “It was down and in. I put a good swing on it, but it was probably what he wanted to do.
Yesterday’s game proved that both Victorino and Polanco are, or arguably are, the two most important players on the team outside of the pitching rotation. As a leadoff hitter, Victorino has certainly improved, taking more pitches and putting the ball in play, but more importantly, getting on base (.370 on-base percentage, second on the team).
In terms of getting on base, no one, not even Victorino, has been better than Polanco, who leads the team with a .403 on-base percentage and is ranked 15th in the National League in OBP.
“Victorino and Polanco can be a little overlooked by fans because they are hidden amongst big names like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, so because they are not typically known for the flashy home runs or big plays, they can easily be forgotten. They do play a vital role in the Phillies lineup,” said PhilliesGab.com edtior John Saban.
As it stands now, Polanco and Victorino have been, for the most part, the team’s two sources of offenses, especially in the last series against the Brewers.
So Philly fans, are Victorino and Polanco better than we originally thought?