Shane Victorino has hit exclusively from the right side for the past six weeks, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him bat left-handed against Anibal Sanchez in Game 5 of the ALCS on Thursday night. However, after going 0-for-3 against Sanchez, he flipped back to the right side against relievers Jose Veras and Al Alburquerque. And from what he told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, he’s not planning to change things up as the postseason continues.
“I thought I’d give it a try, but it wasn’t what I expected,” Victorino said. “It just wasn’t there. I saw the ball well, but I just wasn’t comfortable with the swing and the whole approach. I felt as if I was trying to rush to get to everything. It’s hard to change, especially since I hadn’t done it for two months.”
Victorino originally abandoned hitting left-handed following a hamstring injury in early August. Prior to Thursday’s game, his last at-bat from the left side was on September 3. The 32-year-old is hitting just .229 (8-for-35) with one extra-base hit and 12 strikeouts this postseason, so the urge to try something different is understandable, but it’s a little late for experimenting. Hey, at least he continues to have a knack for getting hit by pitches.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: