It was expected that Eric Thames would hold the Milwaukee Brewers first base job in 2018. Thames continued to mash, but he also suffered a few nagging injuries that limited his performance and availability. His absence also allowed Jesus Aguilar to get full time at bats, and he turned in a career year, but can Aguilar do it again?
Jesus Aguilar entered 2018 with less than 500 plate appearances at the Major League level. He ended the 2018 season with more plate appearances in a single year than he had in all the years previous. He also posted a career high in almost every single offensive category that we have a statistic for.
Now the question is, ‘will Aguilar repeat his success in 2019, or will Eric Thames work his way back in to regular playing time?’
What were Aguilar’s numbers in 2018 again?
It’s been over three months since Aguilar stepped up to the plate for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he ended 2018 with a .274/.352/.539 slash line. He bashed 35 homers, scored 80 times, and drove in 108 runs in 149 games for the Brewers in 2018.
He was an All-Star at mid-season, and finished 16th in National League MVP voting.
Were there any red flags in his advanced metrics?
Not really. His .309 BABIP was right in line with his .315 career average. He managed to walk at a 10.2% clip. He made hard contact 44.0% of the time. His 23.8% HR:FB ratio in 2018 wasn’t that far off his 22.3% career average. His line drive rate was over 23%, and he only put the ball on the ground 35.4% of the time. He may see more of The Shift in 2019 because he profiles as a pull hitter, but it’s easy to beat a shift when the ball is over the fence.
What’s nice about Aguilar is that he didn’t have a platoon split against left-handed or right handed pitching. He slashed .271/.341/.535 against righties, and .282/.379/.550 against lefties. Teams couldn’t call on a LOOGY or ROOGY in the late innings to keep Aguilar from doing damage. He was just about equally good against both sides.
Aguilar will have to look over his should because Thames is still on the 40-man roster, and appears likely to make the 25-man roster. He got the full-time first base job because Thames got hurt. All it takes is one injury for Thames to get back into the daily lineup. 2019 is only Aguilar’s age-28 season. He doesn’t come with a platoon split or an obvious weakness. The only reason he won’t continue to produce for the Milwaukee Brewers is if he suffers an injury. He’s about 6’5″, over 240 lbs., and he’s never attempted to steal a base in the Majors. He’s a solid bet to stay healthy and prove that 2019 wasn’t a fluke.