My buddy John Gibson interviewed Dayan Viciedo of the Chunichi Dragons last week, which you can hear on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast.
In the interview, Viciedo, last year’s CL batting champion, said the difference between this season and last has been more balls out of the zone, demanding better plate discipline from him.
According to Delta Graphs, Viciedo has, so far this season, seen a slightly higher percentage of pitches in the zone than he did last season. He’s swinging at fewer of them, and swinging at a few more outside the zone.
His percentage of pitches in the zone this season so far is 41.9 percent, up from 40.6 last year, which was then a career high for him in Japan. This year, he’s swung at 32.6 percent of the pitches out of the zone, and 68.1% in the zone. Last year, those figures were 30.2% and 73.5%, respectively.
The real difference has been what happens when he puts the ball in play. We don’t have exit velocities and Delta Graphs categories the speed of balls of the bat as soft, medium and hard. But those percentages have barely moved this season for Viciedo.
The difference seems to simply that he’s being hurt by more balls in play being turned into outs than he did last season. Last season, his BABIP was .354, this year it’s .335.
I’m guessing that that is partly luck and — because his percent of home runs per fly ball is way down so far this year (to 13 percent after being over 16.8 percent in each of his first three seasons. This could easily be a function of the colder early season weather.
There’s no reason to think that those things he does in the batters box to hit pitches are any less effective than they were a year ago.