Last season Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox had 25 homers, one more than Hunter Pence, Nick Swisher and Nelson Cruz. Viciedo also knocked in 78 runs, the same total as B.J. Upton and four more than Ben Zobrist. All in all, a pretty darn successful first full season wouldn’t you say? So why is it that I’m never looking at his name with fondness on draft day?
Let’s start with the most obvious reason – he’s not a complete fantasy performer. Viciedo didn’t swipe a single bag last season. None. He’s totaled two steals in 214 career games. Best case scenario he is going to be a four category contributor.
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What about his power? Twenty five homers in 505 at-bats is a nice total, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If we combine his power totals from all the levels he performed at the past few years he hit 25 homers in 447 at-bats in 2010 and 21 homers in 554 at-bats in 2011. Clearly he has the pedigree of a fella who can routinely pound 25 pitches into the seats. That history helps to offset a little bit of concern, but I’m still a bit leery. For his career Viciedo has a 17.6 percent HR/F ratio, and that mark was elevated last season at 20.5 percent (15th best in baseball). Can Viciedo maintain that high level of effectiveness? He had better because his career 1.48 GB/FB is not at all what we are looking for when we’re putting together an ideal skill set for a power hitter. Let’s address his approach at the plate and that that might mean for his outlook.
Viciedo walked 28 times all last season. That’s barely a walk a week (the season is 26 weeks long). That’s awful. I mean really, really bad, like when you were seven years old and you convinced the kindergartner to trade you his Oreo cookies for your red apple at lunch recess (I always preferred the green apples personally). Not only does Viciedo never walk, but his K-rate is high at 22 percent for his career. Put another way, Viciedo has a 0.23 BB/K rate which is half the big league average. Also, his contact rate was 76 percent last year. The big league average was 79 percent. The bottom line is that his approach is poor. Therefore, it’s not at all surprising to see that he hit .255, which just so happens to be an exact match for his average in 102 games in 2011. The .255 average, given his approach is about right. The outlier is the .3080 average he posted in 104 at-bats during 2010. So his average isn’t likely to get much better, maybe he hits in the .270 range, but there’s nothing special happening here. What is also a concern is that his OBP last year was .300, just below his .307 career mark. To put that number into perspective the AL average the past three years has been .322. This negatively effects his fantasy value because if you don’t get on base you don’t score runs. If we remove his 25 bombs last season he only scored 39 other times. Terrible. His total of 64 runs scored overall was the same as Jose Bautista who had 173 fewer at-bats.
Another issue to concern yourself with.
Viciedo has crushed lefties in his career with a 1.014 OPS, but in 506 at-bats against righties it hasn’t been very good. Viciedo has gone deep 18 times with a slash line of .225/.274/.360 against righties. Yuck. It doesn’t seem like a platoon is coming down the pipe, but it’s something to think about as he’s not even league average against righties.
Viciedo is a young player, but one that doesn’t have a lot of hype surrounding him. As such, at least you don’t have to overpay for his services. If you’re in a 12 team mixed league and Viciedo is your 5th outfielder, that’s fine. However, be careful that you don’t roster him to be more than that. His plate discipline is terrible. He could lose some at-bats when a tough righty is on the hill. He never steals a base, and that HR/F ratio of his is pretty darn high. He could have a productive 10 year career with these skills, but he’s unlikely to rise the level of being truly relevant in mixed leagues.
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By Ray Flowers