Do you ever get so bored that you start creating fictional band names, movie taglines, and/or book titles? I do. The band would be Upper Crustacean, clearly a punk outfit. The movie taglines switch depending on the genre, but most are little more than gibberish. But book titles? Love coming up with those. Kept a word document on my desk top four years ago titled "Active Drowning Victim" because I was a lifeguard and a terrible person.
If I were to write a book about the 2013 White Sox season, it would be titled "A Cavalcade of Disappointment". And one of the main disappointments has been Dayan Viciedo. The young former slugger seems to have backslid heavily, going from a near league average hitter with 25 homeruns last season to the second worst hitter in the lineup, with a mere three homeruns and one walk more than Jeff Keppinger. Let that sink in.
But being White Sox fans we've seen this story unfold before. And since you're smart enough to infer from the headline, I don't think we're due for a very happy ending.
Josh Fields had the pedigree. He was an all-around athlete with a rocket arm. I mean, they don't let just anyone play quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys anymore. And things worked out pretty well with the last third baseman the Sox had drafted from OSU. Coming into the 2007 season, Baseball America thought highly enough of Fields to rank him the number 45 prospect in all of baseball. And why not? He had an .894 OPS at AAA the previous season. Hell, he'd even stolen 28 bases and only been caught five times! The future of the position looked to be safe with Joe Crede manning the hot corner until Josh was ready to supplant him.
But then Joe got hurt, like he always did. Fields came up and did a damn fine job for a 24-year-old rookie. His .788 OPS was good for slightly over league average and his 23 homeruns placed him fourth on the team. But there were red flags. He was walking half as often as he had in the minors while striking out more. The baserunning skills disappeared. His defense was charitably bad and there were attempts to teach him left field.
But life was wine. Until a healthy Crede who could not be traded away blocked Fields to start 2008. Injuries and general ineffectiveness proceeded to rob Josh of his once promising future. He could no longer square up on fastballs and the league made him pay for it. By 2010 he was sent to Kansas City in the Mark Teahen trade and hasn't played in the majors since. A potentially good to great career snatched away in his age 27 season.
Coming into 2009, Dayan Viciedo was ranked the 61st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, despite having not yet played in the minors. But he raked in Cuba, putting up numbers you could dream on. The Sox tried to keep him at third base as long as possible, but that pipe dream came to an end in 2010. The International League proved to be little problem for the Tank, as he put up OPSes of .801 and .858 as a 21 and 22-year-old respectively. He was only a Carlos Quentin trade away from being a full-time starter.
And when he finally got his chance, he held his own. His .744 OPS was just a tick below league average and his 25 homeruns were good for fourth on the team. But there were red flags. Viciedo never showed much talent for drawing walks in the minors and that only got worse in the majors. He was striking out almost four times for every walk he drew. Other than his strong arm his defense was poor. But he was only 23-years-old and would surely improve.
Except that he didn't. He's hitting worse than he did during his cup of coffee in 2011. He's walking even less than before with noticeably less power. You could blame misfortune, but his BABIP sits only .009 points lower than last year's figure and yet his wOBA is .040 lower. He's swinging at everything but making about 4% less contact than the average hitter. And if you believe pitch values on Fangraphs, he's getting destroyed by fastballs.
He's still young and there is always a chance at improvement and he's under team control through the 2017 season. But for a pre-arbitration player making $2.8MM, the White Sox sure aren't getting much of a return on their investment right now. Is Dayan Viciedo destined to washout like Josh Fields before him? I don't know. But things aren't looking particularly good for Tank right now.