The omission of Jesus Aguilar from our Top 15 first baseman (click here to view) may have drawn the most attention, and it makes sense.  When you look at his overall production from last season it seems obvious that he belongs:

492 At Bats
.274 Batting Average (135 Hits)
35 Home Runs
108 RBI
80 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.352 On Base Percentage
.539 Slugging Percentage
.309 Batting Average on Balls in Play

However, when you start to look at the splits you have to wonder which Jesus Aguilar was the real one:

HalfABAVGHRRBI
First272.2982470
Second220.2451138

So it all fell apart, to an extent.  No one is going to question his power potential, though can he maintain his first half 27.0% HR/FB mark?  Maybe not, and while he may be better than the 19.0% he posted in the second half it may be closer to the truth.  That would put him on pace more for a 26-29 HR season, as opposed to last season’s monster numbers.

Aguilar also benefited from a .331 BABIP in the first half, and while he does hit the ball hard (44.0% Hard%) any type of regression is going to have a significant impact on his average when coupled with a drop in power and the risk of strikeouts.  As it is he showed a poor approach, with a 12.4% SwStr% and 35.6% O-Swing, and what’s going to happen when he starts seeing fewer fastballs?

Last season opposing pitchers threw him hard pitches 59.26% of the time.  Now consider his Whiff%:

  • Hard – 7.78%
  • Breaking Ball – 20.19%
  • Offspeed – 22.36%

He hit .188 against changeups, .186 against sliders and .242 against curveballs.  Just look no further than his second half numbers if you think he’s locked in to thrive.

Could Aguilar make the necessary adjustments?  Absolutely, but it’s hardly a given.  I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to put him anywhere from #10 and below, but go in with your eyes open and know the risks.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

3 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose the tough call about Aguilar’s ranking is not what he may or may not do in 2019, but why he is inferior to those ranked just above him. Take Trey Mancini for example. He had less home runs, a worse batting average, and plays for a godawful, no support team in the Orioles. Will he be markedly better than Aguilar who, despite his second half drop off, can probably at least manage better peripheral numbers than Mancini?

    It is understood that rankings are very interchangeable in small ranges, so Mancini over Aguilar is very marginal. However, the concern lies with dropping a much better 2018 player below an inferior 2018 player without explaining why that inferior player will supposedly be better in 2019. The same goes for the Matt Carpenter ranking, who should be ahead of a couple of guys and yet is ranked low for an unknown reason. Gutsy stuff, but the evidence (or lack thereof) can be hard to swallow.

    • I’ll have to do a full article on Mancini next, because I’m sure there are a lot who are surprised (or I could make a cheap plug for the draft guide to get the information sooner 🙂 )

      Mancini showed signs of putting things together late last season though, including a big August (.291 with 7 HR) and improvements and adjustments against breaking balls and offspeed pitches. Obviously we aren’t about to project his August over a full season, but with an improving approach and power, a .270/25 type season isn’t a stretch (and reaching 30+ HR isn’t a crazy thought)

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