The one thing that the 2013 season has taught us was the younger players on the team really have made a case for 2014. In particular, Khris Davis has made such an impact in the outfield that people are wondering if the Milwaukee Brewers and Norichika Aoki will part ways in 2014.
If the Brewers do move Aoki, what type of gain can they expect?
Norichika Aoki has performed well as the every day lead off hitter. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
When the 2013 season ends, Aoki’s future with the team is something that in the past few months hasn’t been an assured thing. With the emergence of Davis who had taken over left field (before his sore wrist), it almost spells a certain impending doom for Aoki come 2014.
Next season, the Brewers will have Ryan Braun in left and Carlos Gomez in center, so who plays right? Do they use the team option on Aoki’s contract to bring him back or do they give the keys to Davis who has definitely earned a starting spot on the roster?
It’s not as if anyone really wants to get rid of Aoki, considering how productive he is, but if the Brewers could possibly get something for him, it’s worth a shot to shop him. Earlier this season, the Texas Rangers were big into Aoki, but would later trade for Alex Rios. There’s definitely a team out there in need of a player like Aoki, but who it is will remain to be seen, which is why I believe the Brewers may re-sign him.
Even if the Brewers are trying to shop him, the second reason why Aoki looks to be a hot commodity can be attributed to what Davis has done this year. Davis has outright proven he can handle starting everyday and the Brewers have options behind him such as Sean Halton and Caleb Gindl should Davis fizzle out, but I don’t see that happening.
As for Davis, who made his debut this year, he’s hitting .280/.355/.600 with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs and has scored 25 runs. Defensively, his arm could use some work, but if he were to play in right field, his arm strength wouldn’t really be much of a factor.
Aoki produces out of the lead-off spot, something he’s really grown accustomed to while in Milwaukee. This season, Aoki has been a treat to watch at the plate with a .287 batting average and more multi-hit games than you can imagine. Of course being in the lead-off spot, Aoki doesn’t have much a chance to drive in runs as he only has 34 RBIs, but he has stolen 20 bases and scored 77 runs. He’s also sporting a BABIP (average of balls in play) of .298.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes for Aoki is his decrease in strikeouts from 2012’s 9.4 percent to this season’s 6.2. Alongside his patience at the plate, Aoki also has walked more, 7.3 to 8.3 percent, leading to his .358 on-base percentage.
If Aoki doesn’t go anywhere, it’d only be a shame because of how much it would limit Davis’ playing time, but the Brewers would get consistency out of either player. Realistically, the Brew Crew may just let Aoki walk after the season, but the smart thing to do would be to sign him and see what you could get for him in a trade. Either way, the outfield will be solid with Davis or Aoki in 2014.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.