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Dayan Getting Out of the Swing of Things


Call it 2011 trauma-induced cynicism, but Adam Dunn home runs don’t move me. I cheer and appreciate the production of course, appreciate the attitude Dunn has kept throughout his tumultuous time here and of course, love booming home runs as an experience in and of themselves.

May 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder

Dayan Viciedo

(24) is congratulated by third base coach

Joe McEwing

(47) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

But even the barrage of Dunn home runs of the past two days is not enough to talk me into the idea of “Dunn’s back!” He’ll need to drag his statistical line all the way back to fool me.

Dayan Viciedo, as many times as he’s broken my heart waving at curveballs 19 feet below the Earth’s surface, still offers hope, still hints at something that could be great whenever a ball he doesn’t get all of travels 350 feet. He stuck his butt out and protected on an outside fastball on Monday and flung it 310 feet down the right field foul line. It was amazing.

A week after returning to the lineup from an oblique strain, Dayan Viciedo is doing very, very, very well and it is very exciting. He’s 8-18 with five walks, two home runs, a double, a sacrifice fly and four strikeouts since swinging so hard that he pulled a muscle. Dayan has teased with a more patient approach before–near the end of 2011, specifically–and he’s gone ballistic with power before–like last May–but to see the two working in combination is exciting, and it’s natural to look for reasons it’s not just a blip.

Before his injury, Viciedo was swinging at over 55% of the pitches he saw thrown in his general direction. That’s the type of rate that could put him in the top-10 in baseball by the end of the season.  Since coming back, Viciedo has swiftly knocked 10% off that figure, which about how often Adam Dunn has swung this season.

One week is very much in the realm of “he’s seeing the ball well right now” and the insane surge of batting average with balls in play that accompanies most hot streaks is there too, but swing rates normalize quickly. Not ’53 swings out of 117 pitches seen’ quickly, but swiftly enough that a conscious decision to hold back a bit is noticeable pretty quickly. It certainly was obvious early on when Adam Dunn tried to do the opposite.

Also encouraging is Dayan doing his most recent spate of damage against right-handed starters. Historically he’s been able to punish what he gets a hold of from the right side, he simply struggles to pick much up and has a 15 to 3 K/BB ratio against right-handers before.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are marginal right-handed starters who cannot exactly rush it up there, but Dayan needs to make his living pulverizing lefties and conquering bad right-handers. With his bat speed, all of these guys are giving Viciedo pitches he can handle, it’s a measure of reigning himself in and allowing good opportunities to come to him.

This is all jumping the gun, but Viciedo and Conor Gillaspie are all there is of hitters 25 or under on the team. It’s either watch them and suffer through their development or stick your head in the sand until Courtney Hawkins comes up.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan