Livin' or Dayan?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for Dayan Viciedo to be a middle-of-the-lineup power bat were high when the White Sox signed him in 2008; thus far, he has failed to meet them. Could he do it in 2014?

When Dayan Viciedo signed with the White Sox in 2008, the expectation was that he could be a middle of the order power bat. From a physical standpoint, he had the build of a prototypical power hitter, which even granted him the nickname "Tank". The numbers he put up in Cuba were also impressive and he didn't do too shabby in the minors, either. He finally received a call to the bigs in 2010 and to his credit, put up a nice slash of .308/.321/.519/.840 in a little over 100 plate appearances. However, since then, Viciedo's career has not lived up to expectations, to say the least. Since 2010, he's posted a .260/.305/.424./.728 slash (or 95 wRC+) and because of his limited skill set, has been worth less than half a win since. But is there still hope for Viciedo to turn it around?

First, I wanted to look at what recent history might have to say about players with Viciedo's skill set. I looked at players within the past 20 years up until their age 24 season, selecting players with a BB/K ratio less than or equal to .25 and an ISO less than or equal to .200. The results were as follows:

Corey Patterson 463 1854 57 4.70% 23.40% 0.169 0.317 0.315 87 11.9 -17.8 27.1 7
Adam Jones 473 1801 50 4.90% 20.20% 0.153 0.321 0.326 95 5.7 -5.3 1.2 5.8
Carlos Gomez 445 1420 17 5.10% 22.00% 0.102 0.31 0.285 70 9.5 -43.2 36 4
Juan Encarnacion 324 1341 41 4.00% 18.30% 0.177 0.316 0.332 93 2.4 -9.8 -3.1 3.3
Jorge Cantu 307 1264 44 4.30% 17.20% 0.184 0.301 0.328 99 -0.4 -2.3 -25.4 1.6
Dayan Viciedo 338 1235 45 5.10% 21.50% 0.168 0.305 0.321 98 -4.2 -7.6 -27.1 0.6
Delmon Young 605 2464 59 4.10% 17.40% 0.143 0.333 0.329 100 -4.6 -5.9 -72.6 0.6
Wilton Guerrero 364 1148 8 3.00% 13.50% 0.105 0.329 0.309 83 -1.5 -26.1 -14.4 -0.4
Alex Gonzalez 415 1657 33 4.00% 19.70% 0.135 0.286 0.287 68 -1.2 -71.8 -2 -1.9
Jose Guillen 488 1798 41 4.20% 17.20% 0.141 0.299 0.311 81 -1.8 -47.1 -61.4 -4.9

While we know Gomez and Jones were eventually late bloomers, overall, this is not a terribly impressive list to be a part of, to say the least. What's more interesting about this group is their batted ball data and the similarities found amongst our group. Because Encarnacion, Guerrero, Gonzalez, and Guillen were older than 24 by the time battled ball info was available, they have not been included:

Name LD% GB% FB%
Dayan Viciedo 19.70% 47.50% 32.80%
Corey Patterson 21.00% 43.30% 35.70%
Jorge Cantu 21.30% 41.80% 36.90%
Adam Jones 17.80% 48.60% 33.60%
Delmon Young 18.10% 48.60% 33.20%
Carlos Gomez 17.50% 45.30% 37.30%

This isn't necessarily damning news for Viciedo, but it also isn't encouraging. Let's also remember Gomez and Jones are a lot more athletic than Viciedo and play a premium position, which helps their case. Viciedo is or does neither. In fact, he is quite terrible in the outfield, as evidenced in this GIF, so almost all his value is going to have to come from his bat:


However, what is worrisome is Viciedo's plate discipline. Given that his hit tool has yet to take off, getting on base and laying off bad pitches is that much more important for him. Yet, it's on the contrary for Viciedo that he's swinging at more pitches out of the zone, swinging at more pitches in general, and seeing less first pitch strikes, as seen below.

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% SwStr%
2010 38.70% 76.50% 56.80% 54.30% 82.70% 72.60% 47.80% 63.20% 15.30%
2011 36.40% 57.90% 45.70% 73.30% 86.40% 80.40% 43.00% 60.20% 8.70%
2012 39.90% 66.70% 50.90% 66.50% 83.00% 75.40% 41.20% 60.40% 12.20%
2013 42.50% 73.50% 55.60% 69.40% 82.90% 76.90% 42.20% 59.60% 12.50%

We can also see pitchers are able to exploit this by getting Viciedo to chase pitches up and out or down and away in the zone by looking at his whiff rates over the years.


Overall we see an eroding approach at the plate, which doesn't bode well for future success. Viciedo's playing time is already in danger with Alejandro De Aza being moved to left field after the Adam Eaton trade. While chances are Rick Hahn will try to move De Aza before Opening Day, it's obvious patience (oh the irony) is wearing thin. If Viciedo is unable to improve in this facet of his game, chances are he ends up with the Wily Mo Pena's and Delmon Young's of the world.

Despite the poor results, it's important to remember he's only going to be 25 years old this coming season. It's still possible he can turn this around, as seen with Gomez and Jones. However, if he's ever to reach his potential, honing in on plate discipline is vital. He might not ever become the middle of the order bat once envisioned, but any improvement to the current product would be welcomed.

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball.

Anthony Joshi-Pawlowic is a contributing writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @AJP13237.

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