Chicago White Sox: Why Dayan Viciedo May Not Be the Next Big Thing
Dayan Viciedo came up to the majors to help the Chicago White Sox salvage the last hopes to win the division title. White Sox fans had clamored for months for the White Sox to call Viciedo up so that Ozzie Guillen could insert his powerful bat into the struggling White Sox lineup. White Sox writers on Bleacher Report harped incessantly about the need to call up Viciedo to shore up an anemic lineup and to plug holes caused by injuries.
In late August, the White Sox finally called Viciedo up to the majors. As the White Sox fought to hang on, Viciedo produced, but his teammates did not, and the ship sailed from there.
Unfortunately, Viciedo could not save the White Sox. One could say that he was called up too late to make a difference. Meanwhile, some might say that if only Guillen had pleaded with GM Kenny Williams for Viciedo to be called up—if only Guillen would have played Viciedo sooner—then Viciedo would have helped.
Nevertheless, Guillen was not urgent about playing Viciedo, and Viciedo did not patch the White Sox offense.
Still, Viciedo is being pinned as the next big thing. Last week, one article christened him the next superstar.
While he has shown some flashes, Viciedo has a long way to go before he becomes the next Frank Thomas. One might even argue that Viciedo might not reach that point. He might even become another Gordon Beckham or Joe Borchard.
Following is a list that plays devil's advocate to the parade of cheers for Viciedo.
Minor League Numbers Mean Little
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Much has been said of Viciedo's minor league numbers. Indeed, Viciedo hit 20 home runs and drove in 78 runs at Triple-A Charlotte this season, while also drawing 40 walks. Those are nice numbers.
However, they only take him to the White Sox clubhouse. They don't make him a good major league hitter.
Joe Borchard was scary-good in the minors before being called up. He hit 27 home runs in 2001 and 20 home runs in 2002 before being receiving his call. Then, he only hit .191 with 12 home runs in his four seasons with the White Sox. Then he finished his major league career in 2007 with a .205 average with 26 career home runs in six seasons.
Gordon Beckham hit .326 with a crackling .904 OPS in 2009 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte before making it to the majors. His first major league season was superb. Beckham hit .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI for the White Sox in 2009. However, he has hardly produced since then. He hit .252 with 49 RBI in 2010. This season, he has hit .232 with 43 RBI.
The list of players with amazing minor league statistics and poor major league numbers is very long. Viciedo may very well join that list.
Hot Starts Can Flame Out
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Viciedo hit the ground running when he arrived with the White Sox this season.
He hit .538 with a home run and four RBI in his first four games. In one stretch this month, he reached base in 11 straight games.
Many other players have hit on all cylinders only to fall off track.
In 2004, White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu had a superb season, saving 19 games while posting a 2.31 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He was second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Oakland A's shortstop Bobby Crosby. In 2005, Takatsu melted down, saving only eight games and posting a 5.20 ERA.
When Zach Duke arrived with the Pirates in 2005, he had a start worthy of the Rookie of the Year award, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA. The following season he led the National League with 257 hits allowed and had a 4.47 ERA. Since 2005, Duke has not had a season with an ERA under 4.00. Duke has had three seasons with ERAs above 5.00.
There's no telling that Viciedo won't fall to the same fate.
Viciedo Has Slowed a Bit This Month
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Viciedo has slowed down a bit since his hot start.
Viciedo has hit only .222 with one extra-base hit and one RBI in September. Aside from his 11-game on-base streak, he has been as quiet as any other White Sox hitter.
This has shown that Viciedo is as prone to the energy of the club as anyone else. Also, he is quite capable of falling into a slump.
Could this be a sign of his future hitting capability?
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Part of the reason relatively new players start fast and then slump is that opposing pitchers have to adjust to them.
This is why the beginning of a player's career can deceive people. A hot start can excite the manager and the fans.
However, the player has the edge on the pitcher because he has tape on the pitcher, and the pitcher doesn't have tape on him. Also, the pitcher has never seen this player hit before. The pitcher hardly knows what he's pitching against.
After pitching a couple games against a hitter and being able to watch tape of that hitter, the pitcher is able to adjust to the hitter. Once the pitcher adjusts, he has the edge because he has more experience and understands how to adjust to the hitter. When the pitcher adjusts, the hitter must, in turn, adjust.
This is when people find out whether a player can hit. After pitchers adjust to hitters, the good hitters adjust well.
This might be the time that pitchers are adjusting to Viciedo, after 59 major league games and 191 plate appearances. The burden is on Viciedo to adjust.
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For White Sox fans who have been living in a cave for the last two months, Guillen might not be the manager past this season.
If Guillen leaves the White Sox, it could be a good or bad thing for Viciedo. On one hand, the new manager might be more willing to play Viciedo because he sees Viciedo's numbers and puts them ahead of other hitters who have not hit as well as Viciedo.
On the other hand, a new manager might be as unwilling as Guillen had been to play Viciedo. A new manager might be as biased towards veterans like Guillen is.
Furthermore, the uncertainty regarding who will manage the White Sox next season clouds the future for Viciedo. Being burdened with the weight of no clear future might hurt him even more.
At any rate, Viciedo might have to prove himself in spring training, regardless of who manages the White Sox in 2012.