In this week's edition, Cage Match breaks down too speedy outfielders with some power.
Wow. Just, wow. The 2013 Major League Baseball playoffs have been incredible up until now, especially the ALCS. The Red Sox just refused to give up, coming back twice in their series versus the Detroit Tigers when I thought they were dead in the water. On a personal note, I have to admit I was a little disappointed since I had the Tigers in 7 games.
In today’s Cage Match, we’ll be looking at Game 6 ALCS hero Shane Victorino and a solid, yet unspectacular speed option in Norichika Aoki.
Shane Victorino: OF – BOS – 477 At-Bats, .294 AVG, 15 HR, 61 RBI, .351 OBP, 21 SB, ADP: 115
Norichika Aoki: OF – MIL – 597 At-Bats, .286 AVG, 8 HR, 37 RBI, .356 OBP, 20 SB, ADP: 158.3
Vicotorino posted his lowest walk rate this year, as he walked just 4.7% of the time. He was almost 3% shy of his career mark and this was his lowest percentage since2006 when he walked 5.2% of the time. However, that was just his first full season of major league ball. I’d expect an increase in his walks next year. In his 2nd major league baseball season, Aoki improved on his walk percentage by almost a full percent, walking 8.2% of the time, which translated to 55 walks over 608 plate appearances.
Victorino’s K percentage was the highest of his career at 14.1% (unless you count the 90 at-bats he had over the 2003 and 2005 seasons). He struck out 75 times over his 477 at-bats; nothing that will kill a fantasy team, but something I’d be looking to improve on. Leave the strikeouts to your true power hitters. Aoki improved his strikeout percentage dramatically from year 1 to year 2 going from 9.4% to 5.9%. In 80 more at bats, he struck out 15 less times; only 40 K’s all year!
Vicotorino averages about 12 homeruns per year since his career started. Aoki has 18 homeruns over two MLB seasons. Do we draft these guys as reliable sources of power? No. But, If Victorino can give me 10-15 homeruns and Aoki can give me 10, I’d be more than happy with either player. Due to his place in the Red Sox lineup, it’s obvious that Victorino had a few more opportunities to drive guys in as we see with his 61 RBI’s to Aoki’s 37.
Speed is where these guys can really give your team a boost; however, both players had smaller numbers in this category compared to previous years. Victorino stole 21 bases this year compared to his 39 in 2012, while Aoki stole 20 bases after stealing 30 bases in his rookie year. Can we assume it’s a couple of guys in their thirties that have slowed down? I wouldn’t say it’s a loss of speed for Victorino as his stolen base attempts dropped from 45 to 24. He was still very successful stealing at an 88% clip. Aoki also had less stolen base attempts (six less) but stole at a less successful rate at only 62% versus 79% last year. Aoki’s stolen base numbers were never consistent from year to year in his seven years in Japan, but apart from his last year, he always hovered around 20 stolen bases.
Victorino was owned almost universally in the Yahoo game at 87% to go along with an average draft position of 115 (mid 9th round), while Aoki was 68% owned while being drafted right around the 158th position (start of the 13th round).
Victorino plays on a great team as evidenced by the fact that the Sox are headed towards another World Series appearance. Usually hitting from the 2nd spot in the lineup, Victorino had plenty of opportunities to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury as well as get driven in by Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and the rest of the powerful BoSox lineup. His draft position should remain stable as most of his fantasy relevant numbers, except stolen bases, improved.
Aoki’s 2014 contract option should be picked up by the Brewers as he has transitioned well since coming over from Japan, and the option will only cost the Brewers 1.5 million dollars; peanuts for a starting right fielder and leadoff hitter. While his 2013 numbers weren’t incredible, I’m expecting numbers closer to 2012 as the Brewers should have a more complete lineup with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart coming back for full seasons.
Since Aoki’s numbers regressed from year 1 to year 2, expectations will be lowered going into 2014. Expect to be able to draft him a little later than the 13th round he was drafted in this year. If he can produce his closer to his rookie year, you’ll be getting good value for a late round outfield spot.
Feel free to send me your comments via Twitter @rtrevi27
Previously on Cage Match by Robert Trevisonno: