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August 28, 2013

What You Need to Know

August's Surprising Power Performances

by Daniel Rathman


The Tuesday Takeaway
When the calendar flipped to August, Shane Victorino had five home runs and 29 RBI on the season. When he woke up yesterday morning, he had nine big flies and 41 runs driven in. When he went to bed, he had 11 and 48.

Victorino was no stranger to double-digit homer totals during his heyday with the Phillies, slugging 18 in 2010 and 17 in 2011, but his power output dropped to 11 in 2012, and it lagged badly for the first four months of this year. Now, he has equaled last year’s tally and appears poised to add to it over the remaining five weeks.

As the Red Sox romped over the Orioles 13-2, Victorino led the charge by sending home more than half of their runs. He delivered the second multi-homer game of his career (and his first since July 12, 2008) and collected a career-high seven RBI, adding a double to his pair of long balls to finish 3-for-3 with a walk. Victorino also scored in each of the four times he reached base, including the two occasions on which he plated himself.

Put all of that together and, per the Baseball-Reference Play Index, you have the 10th occasion since 1916 on which a Red Sox player has amassed two or more homers, four or more runs, and seven or more RBI in the same game. Before Victorino, the most recent player to do so in a Boston uniform was Dwight Evans, on August 13, 1988. And two of those 10 instances (Walt Dropo and Bobby Doerr) took place on one day in 1950, when the Red Sox dropped 29 runs on the St. Louis Browns and starting pitcher Chuck Stobbs went 2-for-3 with four walks. (In case you’re wondering, that is indeed the only time in the Play Index era that a pitcher has picked up at least one hit and drawn four bases on balls in the same game.)

Now batting .292/.346/.446, Victorino is rewarding general manager Ben Cherington’s three-year, $39 million investment—an investment that some questioned when the right fielder put pen to paper on December 4. But the 32-year-old switch-hitter is hardly the only player enjoying an unlikely power surge this month.

The list of players who cranked seven or more homers in August of 2012 was rather predictable: it contained 20 names, from Chase Headley and Giancarlo Stanton, who each had 10, to 13 players who had seven, the most surprising of which may have been Kendrys Morales and Hanley Ramirez. And given their production in 2013 neither of those is all that surprising in hindsight.

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