All good things must come to an end, and that is especially true of a baseball player’s tenure with a team. Two years after winning the World Series with the Boston Red Sox, the Flyin’ Hawaiian has been traded. Damian Dydyn does his best to say “Goodbye Shane Victorino”.
Shane Victorino had a magnificent 2013 season. So much so that I don’t really care what he did in 2014, or has done so far this year. He had a metric ton of big hits during the regular season. Metric ton, of course, being the official measurement of value for emotional fans who don’t give a crap about WAR-to-dollar ratios during one of the most incredible, improbable, and emotional rides a team has ever taken a fanbase on in any sport at any time. He also played impeccable defense and had several huge hits in the postseason, including one of the most memorable at-bats in Red Sox history.
Rob Neyer would have us believe that Shane wasn’t so vital to the team’s title run that year, but Rob Neyer can go suck an egg. On top of the fact that every statistic we have access to says he was a vital member of the team in the regular season, he provided fans with some of the most exhilarating moments of the year and was right in the middle of that improbable postseason run. Don’t believe me? Let’s break this down.
Fangraphs and Baseball Reference valued him 6.0 and 6.1 WAR, respectively, making him the most valuable player on the team by one and second most valuable by the other. Let’s go ahead and regress that defensive component by 50% because of the sample size which brings him down to about 5 wins for the season, behind only Ellsbury and Pedroia. Even if you dock him another half win he wouldn’t drop below the next most valuable player by either site’s version of the metric. Right there, the debate about his value is over: he was valuable as hell. End of story, Mr. Neyer.
Of course, we’re not really interested in the nuts and bolts. Not today. What we care about is how Victorino made us feel as fans, and the only answer we can give is summed up beautifully in the lyrics of the walk-up song he debuted in 2013 (and has promised to retire since being traded to the Angels on Monday): “Cause every little thing…gonna be alright!”
Whenever a ball was hit to right field we could all breathe easy. Nothing to worry about here, as we were confident that if the ball was catchable, Shane would make the play.
Maybe a runner trying to score from second on a single was worth getting rankled over? Nope, not even a little bit.
Sox down late? It wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the next big hit was going to come.
He played with what was, at times, an overwhelming amount of emotion and passion for the game. Those traits were on clear display during his goodbye press conference.
Even though injuries kept him from repeating his 2013 performance, he never stopped trying to get back on the field, never stopped giving it everything he had, and never stopped being the guy we all fell in love with. The emotion and passion that overwhelmed him as he said goodbye were the very same things that fueled his success, and gave us moments like this:
This is how you will be remembered, Shane. This is what you will always mean to Red Sox Nation.