FanShot

Yakult Swallows Post CF Norichika Aoki

51

Before 2011, Aoki had a cumulative batting line of .336/.411/.472. For the 2011, when the NPB introduced the new ball- more similar to the MLB regulation ball- he hit .292/.358/.360. He is known as a very good fielder, having won three consecutive (Mitsui) Golden Glove Awards in 2006, 2007, and 2008. In addition, he has a bit of speed, and has at least 17 stolen bases since 2005, peaking at 41 in 2006. He will be turning 30 in the 2012 season In Japan, he's more or less been a contact hitter who sprays balls to all fields, and uses his speed to leg out infield hits, and stretch hits into extra bases. He isn't all that much of a home run power hitter, but has consistently been good for about 15 since debuting as a full-time player. An interesting tidbit, he uses multiple batting stances, depending on the situation- I don't know if this might help him in the MLB, or not, but that is unusual. I'm not fully sure how I feel. His 2011 batting numbers are more representative of what we might see in the MLB, so a .292/.358/.360 isn't bad. Couple that with the fact that he's a centerfielder, and plays plus defense there, and that makes him look even better. The fact that he'll be over 30, and his speed- which is a big part of his offense and defense- is going to be slipping, doesn't bode well. I don't believe his posting price is going to be very high. And, because of his age, I don't think he's going to be asking for a very long-term contract- I'd go three years, $24 million might get it done. All in all, he might be an intriguing option to succeed Pagan after 2012 and keep centerfield warm for den Dekker, and/or help spot the corner outfield spots for Bay and Duda.

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