by Ray Kuhn
As far as divisive players go, Aristides Aquino has to be towards the top of the list. The outfielder emerged seemingly out of nowhere last season as he hit .259 with 19 home runs and 47 RBI in 225 plate appearances, but that is old news.
I know I’m not breaking any news or conducting any ground breaking analysis, but Aquino is not going to continue that pace. As it is he drastically cooled down in September, and there are some clear holes in his game. He still brings some legitimate power tools to the table, but he hit just .196 with five home runs in September.
Again I’m really going out on a limb here, but we saw both the best and worst in 2019. That helps to explain the wide range in his early ADP; 112 to 191. With the risk that is present I would trend towards drafting Aquino at the back end of that range, but it’s hard to argue with the upside. The problem, and why I wouldn’t rush into drafting the Reds’ outfielder, is that he could end up on the waiver wire by the end of April.
For starters, the team we are seeing in 2020 is vastly different than the squad Aquino joined last season. Cincinnati is making a concerted effort towards improving, and they won’t be in the position to stick with a struggling Aquino. As it is Nick Senzel is currently slotted for a utility role, so Aquino will need to hit to stay in the lineup.
Let’s take a look at Aquino through the lens of some Stat Cast metrics:
- Aquino was clearly selling out for power last season as his launch angle was 18.2 degrees compared to a league average of 11.2. While this results in home runs, the down side is that it also leads to more strikeouts (26.7% last season) and fly balls for outs.
- We know that power is the name of Aquino’s game, but his exit velocity is lacking; 87.9 miles per hour compared to the league average of 90.6. This is another reason why there is concern about his prospects moving forward.
- At the same time we could chalk up the exit velocity as an isolated incident, as both Aquino’s hard hit rate (39% to 34.5%) and barrel rates (13.6% to 6.3%) are above league average.
- Additionally, Aquino’s sweet spot rate is below average.
With a .317 ISO last season we can’t argue about Aquino’s power, but it’s also clear that he is selling out for home runs and nothing else. Prior to his promotion he hit 28 HR in Triple-A, and it’s clear he had a new approach (again, cue the skepticism) as his previous career high was 23.
There is a clear gap between between Aquino’s expected and actual power and home run metrics from last season, and while 30 HR is likely, playing time, streaky performance and a .240 AVG all present serious risk factors. At pick 175, it is a lot more palatable than at pick 120.