Nori Aoki’s Quietly Solid Second Half of the Season


Nori Aoki was acquired by the Kansas City Royals to solve their problems at the leadoff spot. Based on his track record in Milwaukee, the on base machine that Aoki was appeared to be a perfect fit. He drew walks, slapped the ball around the park and possessed solid speed – all qualities that the Royals needed in that role.

Then, once the season began, Aoki just did not perform to the level expected. He began striking out, going down on strikes 28 times over the first two months. As he had struck out only 95 times in his previous two seasons combined, this was quite the disappointing total. Add in his misadventures in the field, and his .264/.326/.321 batting line through May 31st, and Aoki was considered to be quite the disappointment.

However, from that point on, Nori Aoki began to figure out the American League. Even accounting for the time he missed due to his groin injury, Aoki has been closer to the player he was with the Brewers than he was over the first two months. Even though his batting line may not look much different since June 1st at .266/.340/.347, Aoki has been making better contact at the plate and displaying a better batting eye, drawing 22 walks while striking out only 17 times in his past 222 at bats.

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  • Yet, for the solid performance that Aoki has had over the past four months, he seems to be one of those players that polarizes the fanbase. Aoki is either considered a decent enough player, useful for what the Royals have been doing with him over the past few weeks, or a terrible player that should not see the field. Of course, that latter designation has also been given to, at various times, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler again, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. At least Aoki has plenty of company.

    Has Nori Aoki been the player that the Royals thought they were getting? Probably not, given his subpar defense and his struggles stealing bases. However, his on base percentage over the past four months is fairly close to his career mark of .349, meaning that Aoki is, at least, going the Royals some of what they were expecting.

    Nori Aoki may not be exactly what the Royals hoped they were getting, but he is not abysmal either. After all, the Royals could still have Jeff Francoeur out in right.