Shane Victorino statistically had the worst full season of his career in 2012.
Yet, the Red Sox still signed the free agent to a three-year, $39 million deal.
Victorino posted career-low numbers in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.
Last season, the 32-year-old hit .255 and slugged .383 with 72 runs, 29 doubles, seven triples, 11 homers and 55 runs batted in. He had a career-high 39 stolen bases, but he also posted a career-high 80 strikeouts and a career low .704 OPS.
Not once in the 2012 season did the Hawaiian native hit greater than .290 or slug greater than .450 in a month (excluding October, in which he played three games).
In the final two full months of his contract year, Victorino hit .239 with only 13 extra base hits and 15 RBI combined.
The soon-to-be Red Sox right fielder really hasn’t been that great over the last three seasons.
Since 2010, he’s hit .264 and averaged approximately 84 runs, 27 doubles, 11 triples, 15 HRs and 62 RBI. The long-time National Leaguer has averaged 31 stolen bases a season, but with his on base percentage declining and hitting a career low in 2012, his stolen base total should see a decline as well.
By signing Victorino, the Red Sox will no longer be pursuing other free agents like Josh Hamilton, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.
The Red Sox could have signed Hamilton to a three-year deal worth twice as much as Victorino's, but instead they decided to save $30-plus million and pass on one of the best hitters in the league.
The Red Sox could have re-signed Ross, whose AVG vs. LHP was 28 points lower but SLG% vs. LHP was 118 points greater Victorino’s, to a less expensive three-year deal,. Instead, Ben Cherington passed on a player who hit. 298 and slugged .565 at Fenway Park last season, while Victorino is 2-for-14 (.143) in his career at the ballpark.
The Red Sox could have even went with Ryan Kalish, who will return in 2013 healthy and hit for a greater AVG and SLG% in 2010 (his only significant playing time) than Victorino did in 2012, but instead the Red Sox, it appears, will not be patient with the young prospect.
Almost $40 million over three years is a lot to pay a player who hit just .230 and slugged .332 against RHP last season.
In fact, former GM and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden predicted that the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner would sign for three years and approximately $30 million. Bowden noted that Victorino is “in decline” and “his contract will exceed his talent because of his makeup.”
The Red Sox looked past that and overpaid the free agent’s predicted, overpaid contract by about $10 million.
Victorino will bring a good glove and speed to the team, but his offensive numbers are in decline.
The Red Sox overpaid for Victorino and should have looked elsewhere, or even within, for a right fielder.