A look at the future of Shane Victorino

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Earlier today I tried taking a gander at Angel Pagan’s fate by looking at what some similar players did after age 31. I created a list of players who had OPSs between .720-.780, no more than 50 homers and at least 50 steals from ages 28-30 (Pagan had a .749 OPS, 26 HR and 98 SB during those three seasons).

Not making that list of comparables was Shane Victorino. He was a bit too good from 2009-11, his age 28-30 seasons, finishing those years with an .800 OPS. However, after a down 2012 season, Victorino would have fit perfectly in the Pagan range there for his age 29-31 seasons. Victorino has a .766 OPS, 46 homers and 92 steals the last three years.

So, I’ve decided to create a similar list for Victorino. This one won’t be quite as long as Pagan’s. Besides Victorino, there are nine center fielders in history to post OPSs from .730-.800, hit between 20-60 homers and steal at least 50 bases from 29-31. One was Alex Rios, who happens to be the same age as Victorino, so he doesn’t tell us anything. Here’s what the other eight did from 32 onward:

Cesar Cedeno: .263/.320/.401, 99 OPS+ in 1,086 AB
Willie Davis: .283/.312/.422, 106 OPS+ in 2,893 AB
Marquis Grissom: .266/.303/.422, 87 OPS+ in 3,275 AB
Stan Javier: .284/.362/.384, 99 OPS+ in 2,151 AB
Ron LeFlore: .263/.326/.353, 92+ OPS in 1,192 AB
Mickey Rivers: .287/.314/.366, 93 OPS+ in 1,089 AB
Devon White: .273/.333/.432, 100 OPS+ in 2,829 AB
Mookie Wilson: .264/.299/.364, 87 OPS+ in 1,694 AB

So, of the eight players most similar to Victorino, Davis, Javier and White lasted as quality regulars after 32. Javier was actually rarely a regular before turning 30, but he ended up being a much better old player than a young one. LaFlore might have lasted as a regular too if not for his cocaine problem.

Personally, I’d be too scared off by Victorino’s decline in 2012 to give him a three-year deal. My suspicion is that he could well be a fourth outfielder come 2014 or ’15. Still, it’s worth noting players like him haven’t aged that badly. Speed oftentimes does age better than power, which is one of the factors in Victorino’s favor.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.