Is Shane Victorino actually the best defensive right fielder in baseball?

Rob Bradford
August 14, 2013 - 8:15 am

TORONTO -- Was John Farrell right? When the manager uttered these words about Shane Victorino following the Red Sox' 4-2, 11-inning win over the Blue Jays Tuesday night -- "To me, defensively, he might be the best right fielder in baseball right now just because of his range and his ability to throw. He'€™s an intuitive player. He'€™s instinctual. He finds a way to make something happen based on the game situation that'€™s in front of him" -- it raised some eyebrows. The best defensive right fielder in baseball? Maybe. But even Victorino thinks it can be better. "I would say it'€™s one of better years, but I feel like I'€™ve played better defense in other years," he said. "But I can'€™t complain." Certainly, what transpired in the Sox' latest win did nothing to hurt Victorino's cause. The outfielder adeptly gathered in Edwin Encarnacion's single and fired a strike home to easily nail Jose Reyes at the plate. If nothing else, it is certainly worth discussion. Statistically, Victorino is among the best in the business. He carries the best range factor per nine innings of any right fielder, while possessing the fifth-best zone rating and the top ultimate zone rating (click here to see rankings) of any outfielder. The first-year Red Sox also is one assist away from leading all major league outfielders, a part of his game that has surprised even Farrell. "The one thing that we'€™ve seen throughout the course of the year is his ability to throw, which is, I think better than our anticipated reports on him,'€ the manager said. Victorino believes people might be taking note of his arm partly due to a position change. Prior to this season, he had played 762 games in center field, 147 in right and 111 in left. "It stands out a lot more because of the fact people see it more," he explained. "I didn'€™t get as many opportunities in center field." Now he's getting the opportunities, and making the most of them. But has that translated into becoming the best of the best among big league right fielders? He's certainly in the thick of the conversation. [poll id=65] [poll id=66]