Norichika Aoki: Congratulations on a fantastic first year..."/> Norichika Aoki: Congratulations on a fantastic first year..."/> Norichika Aoki: Congratulations on a fantastic first year..."/>

A Letter to Norichika Aoki: About Next Season


Mr  Norichika Aoki:

Congratulations on a fantastic first year in the Major Leagues. I know it didn’t end the way that many Milwaukee Brewers fans would like it to – that is, as a finalist or recipient of the NL Rookie of the Year award – but you ought to be very proud regardless.

You came to America during a season that saw some of the best rookie talent in years, and you proved to be a big part of that class. Here’s the thing, though: I want you to be the biggest name in baseball. I have some advice for you in 2013 in order to achieve the level of notoriety as, oh, let’s just say Bryce Harper.

Norichika Aoki is not the high-caliber player that Harper and Trout are according to prominent sportswriters. Most writers tend to agree. (Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE)

Obviously – and please don’t take offense, Mr. Aoki – but Bryce Harper is unquestionably and objectively better than any other rookie in baseball. That’s just science. HE got the award, therefore HE is the best.

So how do we get you there? Well for starters, we should listen to the writers. They’re the ones who write up the awards, then write up the write-ups for the awards they’ve just written up. Baseball writers are the standard bearers of the game – the players they write about become the players we should care about. Hence, if you’re not being written about, you are not playing the game right.

That’s where we can improve your game. Because, and I’m sorry to say this, you aren’t playing the game good or hard enough. Just ask this guy. See, you only struck out 11% of your at-bats, which is lower than your finalist counterparts. That means that you aren’t swinging hard enough. Also, only 10 home runs? Nobody cares about stolen bases or base running anymore. I don’t care how many infield hits you got or how many innings they extended – legging out a single does not get you on SportsCenter. If you want to play the game hard and right you need to step it up.

I’m not saying you’re a bad player, it’s just that according to the Baseball Writers I’ve surveyed (by reading their articles) you aren’t the kind of player baseball needs. For one thing, you’re what – 30? Oh, if only you were 10 years younger! And all that quiet, hard-working, do-what-it-takes-for-the-team stuff? Cut it out. Americans like a player with fire. We want a player that throws his bat, his helmet, his gloves, or any combination therein after he strikes out. That means you really wanted that hit. And just trotting out home runs? Take a look at how Harper does it – he sprints around the bases because he can’t wait to get back in the dugout to not be talked about.

You may have had a great rookie year, Nori, but you aren’t setting an example with

THIS is the kind of intensity we need from someone who is going to change baseball for the betterment of fans and the game – Can Aoki be that guy? (Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE)

your play like Harper or Trout are. You aren’t helping to keep older players in check about their lack of hustle or inability to run out hits. It’s an epidemic, you know. I know not everyone can be hustling all the time, but can you try a little harder? Maybe run faster, for starters. Or dive more to catch fly balls. Making mistakes at high speed or grabbing spectacular outs no one thought you could make is way cooler than always being in position.

Norichika Aoki, you are a great player. You had a tremendous rookie year. You aren’t the sexiest pick, or the youngest, or the most exuberant and you don’t garner the press of other rookie players. You play the game every day without flash and attention – like playing baseball is all you want to do. It’s almost like you don’t even care about the accolades or the press coverage at all.

Going into 2013, you need to ask yourself – is that the kind of player baseball needs?