I generally have tried to avoid worrying about Dayan Viciedo.
He's young, and raw, and the potential is there, and the kinks are only going to be worked out with time if they get worked out at all. All of the projections had him shaking out to around league-average at the end of it all, he's still well within one of his hot streaks of accomplishing that goal.
Sticking to that rationalization has been crucial amidst of year of lunging, jamming himself, popping up crushable pitches, more whiffs than anyone of his bat speed has any business producing, and 18 home runs coming sometimes in spite of his process.
Hitting coaches are not known for their tendency to trash the work of 23 year-old regulars, but Jeff Manto and this administration seem particularly adverse to making waves. And yet, Manto came as close as he could to expressing frustration on August 10th.
"Right now, he's just like any other young hitter. He has to trust information he's getting and trust information he's seeing on the video," said Manto. "People are throwing him away. And I think he doesn't trust the information.
"He sees it on the video and the reports and sees it in the game plan. He doesn't trust it right now, which is normal for a young player. Players need to experience it. That's why sometimes we can overcoach. That's when coaches get in trouble stepping in and giving too much information."
"Every night he's being pitched middle, away," Manto said. "Right now, he's pulling off the ball. Once he trusts he can go the other way and that his strength is to go the other way, he'll get back in his groove. For right now, he's coming out of his comfort zone a little bit too much."
I'm not great at cutting off block quotes, but all that information seemed particularly valuable. Playing in U.S. Cellular Field with his bat speed, it certainly seems like Viciedo should be priming himself to rip liners into the Sox bullpen in left field, and watching gives the sense that he feels very strongly the same way.
But the response to Manto's prodding to use his stupendous opposite-field power has been immediate and striking. Viciedo took an outside fastball out to right field Friday night, he took a 95 mph fastball on the outer half out to right field on Wednesday. Heck, Dayan pretty much hasn't pulled a ball for a hit since the statement, and has gone 9 f0r 26 with five strikeouts in that time.
He's not fixed now. The opposite-field isn't uncharted territory for him as he's hit four other bombs in that direction, but it's an interesting look under the hood for what can look like flailing wildness from the outside. Between the May-June hot streak and now, Viciedo's season has featured breakthroughs quick followed by long periods of banging his head against the wall, and dreams about his walk rate might be dying cruelly this year.
Yet, there's development going on here. Perhaps the most important part of Dayan's most recent two home runs is that they came off of right-handers, given his terrifying platoon splits. Not turning every slider and fastball away into a groundout to shortstop could help combat those.
The positive steps are going to need to continue and get larger for Viciedo as an aging offensive core gets less self-sufficient and needs more from their left fielder. But he continues to outpace the cutoff point for when to panic, no doubt in part because there hasn't really been one.