DETROIT -- The loss of Avisail Garcia was crushing for the White Sox, but Dayan Viciedo’s play has certainly lessened the blow.
The White Sox outfielder enters Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers with an American League-leading .361 batting average. Playing on an everyday basis in Garcia’s absence, Viciedo has begun to demonstrate some of the patience against sliders the White Sox have hoped for from him the past few seasons.
In the 11 games since he took over as an everyday player, Viciedo has a .381/.422/.571 slash line with five doubles, a homer and seven RBIs. He also has only five strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.
“It’s that I’m becoming more patient and two, it’s that I’ve seen it a lot,” Viciedo said through a translator when asked about laying off sliders. “I’ve seen a little of that. Now, I can recognize it early and lay off of them.”
Viciedo said he and hitting coach Todd Steverson have mostly talked about patience and pitch selection and the latter has shown up against sliders. Opposing pitchers are throwing the slider to Viciedo in 24.1 percent of the pitches he has seen this season, up nearly six percent from his career norm, per fangraphs.com.
But Viciedo has shown he can handle the pitch as he’s hitting .357 against the 55 sliders thrown at him this season, per brooksbaseball.net. That’s up from a .233 average over 847 sliders for his career.
“It’s been good so far,” said Viciedo, who had a career-high four hits on Tuesday and walked in five plate appearances.
Viciedo has struck out 11 times in 68 plate appearances this season. Projected out over last season’s 473 trips to the plate, Viciedo would strike out 21 less times at this rate.
“He understands a little bit more about what he needs to do to be successful and what pitchers are trying to do to him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s more of a relaxed sense to him than maybe there has been in the past and maybe even starting at the beginning of the year. For every unfortunate thing that happens, there’s something good that happens. He’s getting the benefit of that.”