Some players just seem tailor made to the ballparks that they play in. The Boston Red Sox had Wade Boggs, who essentially played pepper with the left field wall. Old Yankee Stadium was the House That Ruth Built, due to Babe Ruth‘s ability to take advantage of the short porch in right. Vince Coleman took advantage of the second Busch Stadium, hitting the ball into the gaps and using his speed to fly around the bases, much like Willie Wilson used to do in Kauffman Stadium. Now, the Royals once again have another player seemingly designed to play in Kauffman with Nori Aoki.
While Aoki has struggled on the road, as his .103/.188/.138 batting line would attest, he has been equally hot at Kauffman Stadium. With two more hits yesterday, Aoki now has a .448/.484/.655 batting line with two doubles and two triples at home. The wide open spaces at Kauffman have truly played to Aoki’s strengths with the bat thus far, as he has had great success slapping the ball down the line or sending it into the gaps in the outfield.
Nori Aoki’s performance thus far is indicative of the type of team that the Royals were looking to build. After failing to sign a power bat once Carlos Beltran opted for the New York Yankees, the Royals focused on building a team that they felt would suit Kauffman. Aoki, with his speed and ability to put the ball in play, was one such player.
Aoki, for his part, feels that his performance at home and on the road is just a coincidence. However, he does enjoy playing at Kauffman Stadium.
“I feel it’s just a coincidence. I just started getting hot when we started playing here and I cooled off on the road,” he said. “But I really enjoy playing in Kansas City. It’s a really beautiful stadium and it’s a nice atmosphere here.” (h/t Dick Kaegel, royals.com)
As completely unrealistic as it is that Nori Aoki will continue to hit around .450 at Kauffman Stadium, it is equally improbable that he would bat around .100 on the road. Yet, as the early part of the season shows, Aoki is exactly the type of hitter that works well in Kansas City, and is the right type of player to be leading off for the Royals.
Some ballparks just seem to be built for a certain player. Kauffman Stadium and Nori Aoki appear to be a perfect match thus far.