Ghosts of Phillies Past: Shane Victorino and Ricky OteroAugust 12, 2011
Another hugely successful week for the Phillies. All they’ve done is win five out of six, complete a 9-1 West Coast road trip, and gotten into a brawl with their new nemesis, the San Francisco Giants.
Phillie of the Week: Shane Victorino
At the forefront of the week’s action was center fielder Shane Victorino. Despite being moved all throughout the lineup, Victorino is having the best season of his career.
He is currently batting .312 with 12 home runs, but perhaps more importantly, the switch hitter is producing from both sides of the plate helping to keep the Phillies lineup balanced. And as usual, he is providing his usual impressive base running and sterling defense in centerfield.
If you polled fans around the country about who their least favorite Phillie is, I’m guessing Victorino would be the most common answer. While the rest of the Phillies seem to carry themselves in a businesslike manner, Victorino is somewhat demonstrative on the field. This has occasionally drawn the ire of the Phillies’ opponents.
It probably wasn’t a coincidence that when the Giants wanted to make a statement on Friday, it was Victorino who was hit by a pitch. Victorino didn’t take too kindly too the plunking, and incited a benches-clearing scuffle between the two teams. Later on, Victorino had to be restrained as he repeatedly tried to charge into the fray. Unfortunately, this resulted in a three game suspension which he is currently appealing.
Ghost of Phillies Past: Ricky Otero
In 1996, the Phillies had a different speedster manning center field. Otero had been obtained in an offseason trade with the Mets, and after Lenny Dykstra went down with an injury, Otero was given a regular job.
Batting leadoff for much of the 1996 season, Otero was actually somewhat of a fan favorite at first. He was considered “pesky” on the base paths, and his energetic style was a small highlight on a dismal team.
Unfortunately, as one writer quipped, “Ricky can run, but he can’t hide.” He batted a respectable .273 in 1996, but his .330 on-base percentage was far too low for a player who had almost no power. In 411 at bats, he only managed 20 extra base hits.
And while he might have been “pesky” on the base paths, he wasn’t that effective as a base stealer. Throughout his Phillies career, he was caught stealing 13 times against 16 stolen bases. Not a good ratio for a player whose strength was his speed.
Once it became clear that Otero was never going to hit well enough to be a major league regular, he was replaced as the center fielder by prospect Wendell Magee. Sadly, of the two players, Otero probably had the more successful Phillies career.
With so many stars on the current Phillies, Victorino sometimes gets a bit overlooked. That is a bit of a shame as Victorino has arguably been the team’s offensive MVP this season.
It is almost taken for granted that center field is going to be a strength for the team. That wasn’t always the case, as the team used to have to throw one-dimensional players like Otero out there and hope they contributed.