Originally written 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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: L.A.-area venues wary of temporarily hosting NFL teams

Jimmy Graham to block for Marshawn 75 percent of time

Kobe Bryant not sure if 2015-16 is his final NBA season

Report: Arian Foster could be headed to injured reserve

Ari Fleischer: Belichick 'can get away with' shutting down media

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

RG3 on team's expectatons: Not asking me to be Superman

Bills' Kromer issues suspension statement without apology

Report: Patriots restructure Rob Gronkowski's contract

Agent: Rory McIlroy not booked for PGA Championship practice

Tom Brady, NFL to appear before judge on August 12

Report: Bradford, Eagles hope to sign short-term extension

Melvin Gordon’s mom won’t wear his jersey this year

Waiver wire deals to keep an eye on following trade deadline

Chip Kelly: No regrets keeping Riley Cooper on team after rant

Houston Astros have altered their fate

Kris Bryant on changing to feet-first slide: ‘I only have one head’

Gronk, Big Papi go 'country' in latest Dunkin Donuts video

Phillies showing signs of future success

Mortensen on false Deflategate report: Still figuring Twitter out

Sheldon Richardson is down, but is he out?

Would Phil Jackson have taken Towns or Okafor first overall?

Seven Big 12 Heisman candidates for 2015

Will Manziel be good enough to be Browns’ backup plan?

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

Kris Bryant on changing to feet-first slide: ‘I only have one head’

MLB season in NY better than expected

Adrian Beltre gets mad when assaulted after HR

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker