Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/16/14
In any other year Norichika Aoki would have garnered a lot more attention, but to Aoki’s detriment 2012 gave us three great rookie seasons from Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Yoenis Cespedes. But if I asked you which rookie had the fourth-best season last year, your answer had better be Aoki.Trout, Harper, and Cespedes aside, Aoki had the best wOBA (.344), wRC+ (115), and WAR (2.9) of any rookie last year. Among all players with at least 500 plate appearances his 30 steals were tied for 12th-most, his 9.4% strikeout rate was sixth-best, and his 1.28 K:BB ratio was 15th-best. Any way you look at it, Aoki deserved his 66th overall ranking last year. We expect more of the same this year.At a GlanceStrengths: R, BA, SBNeutral: OBP, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: HR, RBIPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Jose Reyes (TOR)Likely scenario: Alejandro De Aza (CHW), Ichiro Suzuki (NYY), Angel Pagan (SF)Worst-case scenario: Michael Brantley (CLE)Norichika Aoki 2013 Fantasy ProjectionMost xBA calculators across the web, including ours, indicate that Aoki should have batted better than his .288 mark last year. With a strikeout rate under 10% and a lot of speed, that’s not a surprising revelation. It will be tough for Aoki to hit much better than .290 if he doesn’t get that 16.9% line drive rate up, but his great K:BB ratio will prevent him from hitting any worse. I’d be shocked if Aoki doesn’t bat at least .280.Statistically, Aoki reminds me a lot of Alejandro De Aza. De Aza has a much higher strikeout rate, double Aoki’s, but both players should have around 30 steals with .280ish averages (Aoki’s could be much higher), around 10 homers, and between 85-95 runs scored. I truly believe that Aoki has a higher ceiling than De Aza because of his plate discipline, but both players are almost identical at this point. This is reflected in their current ADPs, which on Yahoo! are currently 161.5 (De Aza) and 179.2 (Aoki).We have both players listed as top-75 options, and despite their lack of a power game they do enough in those categories to avoid being category killers. If you feel confident you can pair one of them with a bargain outfielder with good power and a solid average but zero speed (Josh Willingham, Nick Swisher, Michael Morse), you should be aggressive targeting starting pitchers in the earlier rounds.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Manny Pacquiao after loss: 'I thought I won the fight'

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Falcons draft pick's house burned down during draft

Packers trade up to draft Brett Hundley

Greg Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Mayweather bans Rachel Nichols, Michelle Beadle from covering fight

Five takeaways from Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft

Elite recruit Jaylen Brown commits to California

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

Cubs fans want Harry Caray video for seventh inning stretch

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Brooklyn Decker expecting first child with Andy Roddick

Michigan using other programs' draftees to recruit players?

Texas staffer takes shots at Baylor, Texas A&M during draft

Rob Gronkowski wears awesome suit to Kentucky Derby

WATCH: Bryce Petty reacts to being drafted by the Jets

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Report: Zac Stacy traded to Jets

Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Jerry Jones sends letter to Pacquiao

Mayweather bans Beadle, Nichols

WATCH: A-Rod fights back tears

A-Rod hits 660th home run, ties Willie Mays

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Celebrities make their picks

Ryan Succop offers to arm-wrestle Marcus Mariota for No. 8

Laila Ali rips Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Peterson wants more money from Vikes

Chip Kelly just doesn’t care about defense

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.