Last season, when Dayan Viciedo wasn't on one of his torrid hot streaks, there was a lot of criticism aimed at the 23 year-old Cuban outfielder. Many grew tired of his lack of plate discipline - especially in situations when the White Sox needed a smart at bat, if you will.
But I'm here to remind you why we, as White Sox fans and even analysts, should not take "the Tank" for granted ... which is probably something you won't do when you see his statistics put into perspective.
I know for someone like Viciedo, the offense is what's most important ... but everything defense-related still does matter, so we'll touch on that briefly first.
In 2012, Viciedo was tackling a new position in left field. Before that, he'd been bred as a right fielder and even further back as an infielder, so it hadn't been made easy on him. Still, he fared pretty well.
Throughout last season, Viciedo played 131 games in left field, tied for the 5th most in the MLB. His 233 putouts there were also the 5th most in the MLB - so you know that the following statistics reflect a very fair sample size.
In 2012, Viciedo had ...
just 2 errors
13 assists, tied for 2nd best among MLB LF's
an impressive .992 fielding %
Trust me, I know numbers like that can't tell the whole story. But impressive stats like those can't be ignored, either. Overall, Viciedo certainly did pass the eye test. He played very well in LF throughout all of the season, and though he did struggle just a bit as the season progressed into its later stages, it was a very encouraging overall performance. It's encouraging knowing that whether Viciedo is stuck in LF, RF, or even 1B for the long haul (of his career).
Last season, Viciedo hit only .255 but did hit 25 home runs while driving in 78 runs. His .300 OBP is definitely lower than we would've liked to see, and we know his .444 slugging% could've been better as well.
Even though we know he certainly does have the potential to be better with the numbers like his .308 BA he had through 104 at bats in his rookie season of 2010, we still cannot underestimate what we got out of the 23 year-old youngster in his first full MLB season.
Below are the rookie year statistics for 3 hitters who were at one point in a similar situation to what Viciedo was in last year
While Jason Heyward was 21 during that rookie campaign of his, both Soriano and Cruz were at least a couple years older than the 23 that Viciedo was last year. So, for comparisons sake, Viciedo is right there with those guys.
I know Tank isn't getting the attention was getting when they were bursting onto the scene, but we shouldn't let that cloud our perception of him. Like when we signed him as a highly-touted teenager from Cuba, Viciedo's ceiling is still sky-high.
Last year on the Inverted W Podcast, I called Viciedo a "poor man's Vladimir Guerrero." Although Vlad is a future HOF'er, I still feel good about that comparison.
If Tank can reduce the slumps and/or increase the hot streaks we saw him go on last season, he could very well be putting up numbers that'll get him the media hype he deserves.
For now, we'll consider it a good thing that he isn't getting too much hype. Like the rest of the White Sox, flying under the radar can certainly be a good thing. But hopefully it's soon time for him to break out and live up to the predictions that we at GSB! feel he can reach in 2013.