By David Heck, Special to CBS Local Sports
CBS Local Sports will be profiling one young player from each Major League Baseball team every day for the next 30 days as part of our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature.
Dayan Viciedo, Outfielder, Chicago White Sox
2012 season: 147 G, 505 AB, .255 BA, 25 HR, 78 RBI, .744 OPS
The White Sox are one of the harder teams to get a handle on heading into the 2013 season. Their pitching seems solid and their division appears weak, but there are a lot of question marks when it comes to Chicago’s position players. Dayan Viciedo is one such player who fits that description.
Take a look at the numbers above and you can easily see why there’s both excitement and trepidation about what Viciedo can provide. He smacked 25 home runs as a 23-year-old, but he nonetheless posted a .744 OPS that’s below the standard for starting corner outfielders.
Viciedo combines two things that one doesn’t like to see in a player: poor plate discipline and a relatively low rate of contact. Last year, he drew only 28 walks and made contact with just 75.4% of pitches he swung at, striking out 120 times. The native of Cuba doesn’t bring a lot to the table in other areas of the game, either. At 5-feet-11 and 240 pounds, he’s not someone that you would call fleet of foot on the basepaths or in the field. It’s too bad for Viciedo that the White Sox have committed their designated hitter spot to Adam Dunn, because that’s where he really belongs.
So with all those problems, what does Viciedo offer that got him 505 at-bats last year? Tons of power. He demonstrated that in May, when he smacked eight longballs to go along with a .995 OPS, and he showed it off at the end of the year by going deep in each the White Sox’s final three games. As long as Viciedo continues to get playing time, he’s likely to continue to hit balls out of the park at an equal or higher rate. He already dominates lefties (1.033 OPS last year), so he just needs to get a little more respectable against righties (.650 OPS) to really establish himself.
Viciedo’s batting average will probably be limited by his contact rate, but if he gets lucky with balls in play, he could put together a very strong season. His lack of walks wouldn’t be as much of an issue if he could hit .300. And a player who hits .300 with pop is almost certain to provide value, regardless of his deficiencies in the field and on the bases.
Viciedo will likely hit behind Dunn and Paul Konerko in Robin Ventura’s lineup – a middle of the order that could combine for 100 dingers under the right circumstances. If that happens, look for the White Sox to make some noise in the American League Central.
Next up on March 7: Detroit Tigers