Sunday, September 02, 2012

Pence or Victorino? Which team got a better deal?

A month has gone by now since the Phillies traded away two thirds of their outfield to competing clubs in the National League West. The Giants picked up Hunter Pence and the Dodgers got Shane Victorino. From a birdseye view, neither team got a competitive edge with those two deals. In fact, they look remarkably similar in their unremarkable play. The one difference is that Victorino is an out and out free agent at the end of 2012 while Pence has a final year of arbitration pending. But judging from how slow Pence has started for the Giants, that might not be a win either.
One factor to take into account for both players is that they had a nice home ballpark to play in at Philadelphia. Both the Giants and Dodgers play in more pitcher friendly parks. Oddly enough, both players are slightly more successful in their new homes than they are on the road so far with their new clubs. Even that is no great shakes and two teams desperately hoping for an offensive boost, neither got one.
Pence has had a good week. Even so, in 30 games with the Giants, Pence's triple slash line sits at .233/.292/.362. On the plus side, he has driven in 22 runs in those 30 games with a couple of homers. The Giants had to have hoped Pence would have had a bigger impact. When Pence was in a similar situation last year when he went from the Astros to the Phillies, he had an OPS of .954 down the stretch.
Similarly, Victorino, in his 28 games with the Dodgers, his slash line is .248/.307/.342. Pence has a five point lead in OPS, so that is a virtual dead heat. Victorino does not have the runs batted in though but has played much better in the field. According to, Victorino' play has been worth 0.4 rWAR with the Dodgers, while Pence has been worth 0.2 rWAR for the Giants. Both have a higher than average BABIP for their new teams, so it's not like they have been unlucky.
Both players have had disappointing seasons relative to their results a season ago and their career norms. Victorino is a full 140 points of last year's OPS with the Phillies and 65 points off his career OPS. Pence is 117 points below last year's OPS and 64 points off his career mark.
When you take a closer look at Hunter Pence's batted ball and plate discipline stats, there is nothing noticeably different. The one area that jumps out at you is his contact rate and swinging strike rate. His contact rate is the lowest of his career at 72.7 percent. That is off significantly from his career 77.1 percent. His swinging strike rate is 12.8 percent, also the highest of his career (11.4 percent) and significantly higher than his last two seasons. Pence has always had positive numbers against the fastball and positive numbers the last couple of seasons against the slider. Both pitches against him this year have a negative value.
Shane Victorino's batted ball data is also within his career norms with the one exception that his homer to fly ball rate is off quite a bit. He is slightly less patient at the plate. But nothing else is out of line for him as far as plate discipline goes. Like Pence, his is having a lot of problems with the fastball this year unlike other years. He is also struggling with the change up.
As you can see, neither the Dodgers or the Giants have gained an appreciable advantage with their choice of former Phillies' outfielders. If you had to give an edge to anyone for their trade deadline deals, the team that seemed to make the best deal with the struggling outfielders was the Phillies.


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William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

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