Player News: Norichika Aoki's August Numbers

Aoki's second half of the season has been rock solid.

Aoki's second half of the season has been rock solid.

Norichika Aoki, Tokyo’s endlessly talented centerfielder, has been the subject of a lot of misinformation this year.

During the first half of the season when the team was playing well, everyone (including me) was saying, “Wow, it will be really nice once Aoki finds his form again.”

Yes, it’s true. The start to the 2009 campaign was a bit of a drag for number 23. He seemed to be mired in a bit of a post-WBC glory malaise, and the only thing positive about the first couple months of the season was the fact that he was drawing so many walks.

However, now that the team is not playing well at all, the first thing that a lot of people use to explain that phenomenon is the memory that Aoki isn’t playing well this season.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While Yomiuri’s Alex Ramirez just won the player of the month award for August, and deservedly so, our own Aoki also put up impressive numbers during a month where the team did little right.

Aoki played in all 25 of the team’s games in August, and he had 97 at-bats. He had 34 hits (including four home runs) and collected 12 rbi’s. On top of that, Aoki drew 11 walks and two free bases via beanball.

In other words, his .351 batting average, .427 OBP, and .515 slugging had him leading the team during a month filled with injuries, horrible starting pitching, and some very avoidable losses. Aoki’s OPS of .942 isn’t too shabby for a guy that everyone believes is having an off year.

And his stats for the year, quite naturally, are getting back up to where members of the Tsubamegun are used to seeing them. He currently leads the team in runs scored (68), total bases (174: tied with Guiel), hits (114), and walks (57). His vitals are .274 BA, .373 OBP, and .418 SLG.

So the real story is that, yes, he had a rather crummy start to the season (by his standards), but he’s now back to his old self. The Swallows dismal month of August (18 losses!), when Aoki had 10 multi-hit games, had nothing to do with the man himself.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini