Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/25/13
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.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Adrien Broner uses Bruce Jenner zinger after win

ESPN explains reason for Dabo Swinney interview error

Brian Kelly: Kizer made right call on 2-point play

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run


Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

Steve Smith has microfractures in back, out for Week 5

Cowboys want Brandon Weeden to attempt longer passes

Nebraska captain tells crowd 'I'm sorry we suck'

Report: Dolphins could fire some coaches if team loses to Jets

Georgia fans get #FireRicht trending on Twitter

Cormier tops Gustafsson at UFC 192

Robert Smith wants Braxton Miller back at QB

WATCH: Clemson, Swinney have locker room dance party

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

WATCH: Dabo Swinney interview awkwardly cut off

Ohio St. LB Darron Lee has message for fans after close win

WATCH: Swedish league player unties opponent's skates

Max Scherzer throws second no-hitter of the season

Ezekiel Elliott jokes he owes his OL a steak dinner

Mike Riley explains questionable pass play on third down

Torey Lovullo would be 'honored' by managerial offers

WATCH: Ohio State stops Indiana on 4th down to win game

McIlroy: Spieth, Day have made me hungry again

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

What to watch in CFB Week 5

Starter strategies for final, tie-breaker and wild card games

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker