Norichika Aoki
Norichika Aoki
36-Year-Old OutfielderOF
 Free Agent  Foreign
Free Agent
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Aoki hasn't reached double-digit home runs since his rookie 2012 season, when he was in a favorable hitting spot with the Brewers. Still, Aoki's career-high 2017 strikeout rate was a mere 11.8 percent, which still ranked him among the best contact hitters with 350-plus plate appearances. Major-league teams will value that ability with at least a part-time lineup role, and his left-handedness gives him a platoon advantage. Unfortunately, much of his plate discipline and contact now leads to an empty batting average that's dependent on him hitting high in the order to add fantasy value. Three teams rented him in 2017, and he could find similar insecurity in 2018, though in fantasy leagues with deep outfielder requirements in a lineup, Aoki could have fleeting stretches of success, perhaps in head-to-head leagues where owners can deploy him against righties. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a three-year, $9.19 million contract with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball in January of 2018.
Returns to Japan on three-year deal
OFFree Agent  F
January 30, 2018
Aoki agreed to a three-year deal with the Yakult Swallows of Japan's NPB, the Japan Times reports.
ANALYSIS
He played for five MLB teams over the past three years, and understandably opted for security this winter over possibly settling for a minor-league deal in 2018. Aoki has a career .285/.350/.387 slash line with 33 home runs and 98 stolen bases in 759 MLB games.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
 
 
+37%
OPS vs RHP
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
+29%
OPS vs RHP
2016
 
 
+42%
OPS vs RHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2016vs Left .568 175 21 0 9 3 .224 .305 .263
Since 2016vs Right .776 665 90 9 54 14 .295 .353 .423
2018vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017vs Left .586 67 7 0 6 1 .218 .313 .273
2017vs Right .756 307 41 5 29 9 .288 .340 .416
2016vs Left .557 108 14 0 3 2 .227 .299 .258
2016vs Right .793 358 49 4 25 5 .300 .364 .428
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
 
 
+2%
OPS on Road
2018
No Stats
2017
 
 
+25%
OPS on Road
2016
 
 
+16%
OPS at Home
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2016Home .727 377 39 3 24 6 .281 .351 .376
Since 2016Away .739 463 72 6 39 11 .280 .336 .402
2018Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017Home .641 167 16 1 15 3 .255 .307 .333
2017Away .800 207 32 4 20 7 .295 .357 .443
2016Home .797 210 23 2 9 3 .303 .386 .411
2016Away .689 256 40 2 19 4 .267 .319 .371
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Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
Games By Position
Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Upcoming Pitchers
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
Aoki's groundball-heavy skill set says he'll never come close to the 10 homers he poked in his rookie 2012 season. Of course, it's hard to begrudge someone who hasn't posted a season-long batting average lower than .283 and can steal 20 bases in a full big-league season. One of baseball's best contact hitters, Aoki remains a real-life asset, but it may be tough for him to find consistent at-bats despite a .300/.364/.428 line against righties in 2016. Analytics dog Aoki's defense, the Astros' lineup is loaded with talent and the organization is almost married to sabermetrics. Plus, how much can fantasy players count on someone his age who relies on speed to augment his value? Aoki can offer temporary value in mixed fantasy leagues with appropriate playing time, though he's likely best left as a rental player in those formats, with only mild enthusiasm in AL-only games that value any playing time possible.
Aoki got off to a hot start with his new club in 2015, slashing .317/.383/.385 pre-All-Star break before injuries derailed his season. He was hit by a pitch that broke his leg in June, and less than a week after his return in August, he was hit in the head by a Jake Arrieta fastball which effectively ended his season. The Giants declined his $5.5 million 2016 option, making Aoki an unrestricted free agent, but he found a new home with the Mariners in December (another one-year deal). Assuming he is fully recovered, the veteran outfielder will likely open the year as a regular in left field, but Aoki will lose out on at-bats against lefties to Franklin Gutierrez, and Seth Smith (currently) still looms as a lefty option in case Aoki slips up.
Aoki served as Kansas City's primary leadoff hitter before manager Ned Yost made the switch to Alcides Escobar in mid-September, but the Japan native was still able to turn in a productive 2014, as his ability to make contact against any type of pitching led him to a .349 on-base percentage. There was never much to find in the power department, but the 33-year-old still managed to score 63 runs and steal 17 bases, to go along with an impressive .363 batting average against left-handed pitching. A career .287/.353/.387 hitter, Aoki signed a one-year deal with the Giants in January to take over as the team's primary left fielder. If he hits at or near the top of the order in San Francisco, it's reasonable to think he'll contribute in batting average, runs scored, and stolen bases at a steady clip in 2015.
Aoki did his job as the Brewers’ leadoff hitter last season, getting on base at a .356 clip and striking out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances. However, he tallied just 31 extra-base hits after racking up 51 the year before, and his stolen base total dropped from 30 to 20. Aoki was traded to the Royals this offseason, and the plan is for him to remain in the leadoff role with his new club. Though Aoki may not provide much in terms of power, he could see his stolen base total recover playing for a team that led the AL in steals in 2013.
Aoki came to MLB last offseason with little fanfare, but he more than made a name for himself in his rookie season. After beginning the year with a minimal role, Aoki took over the everyday duties in right field when Corey Hart was moved to first base. He subsequently locked down the job for 2013 by hitting 10 home runs, stealing 30 bases, and providing a spark atop the order with a .355 OBP. Aoki struggles a bit against lefties, but his bat skills and speed will help him hold down the leadoff spot for the Brewers - an envious position in front of a powerful lineup.
From 2005-2010, Aoki was Japan's consensus top contact hitter, hitting .344 or higher four times and drawing Ichiro comparisons. With the introduction of a new pitcher-friendly ball last season, Aoki's batting average dropped to .292 and the Ichiro comparisons came to an end. His power also declined as he had slugged over .500 in three of the previous four years, and .509 in 2010, but could only manage .360 with the new ball. Aoki still hit .292, and reached base at a .358 clip. He still showed a good batting eye, walking 51 times while striking out 55. He'll likely be a Juan Pierre-type: some singles and on-base skills, not a lot of power, and a few stolen bases. Milwaukee won his rights via the posting system and it's not clear exactly where he'll play if he signs a contract. He may begin the season as a reserve outfielder, but could start in center field.
Japan's top hitter for average, Aoki had another great season in 2010 by setting a career high in batting average at .359 and falling just short of Ichiro Suzuki's old NPB record with 209 hits. Aoki also set a career high with 44 doubles, and slugged at a .509 clip. Aoki has about three years of service time left before free agency, but could be posted a year or two earlier if he decides to move to MLB.
Japan's top hitter for average is coming off a "down" year, but he still hit .303 with a .400 OBP. Aoki has had his previous requests to be posted turned down, but given that Yakult posted Kazuhisa Ishii and Akinori Iwamura, they could bend and post him before he hits free agency. We could see him move to the U.S. in 2012 as a result.
More Fantasy News
Released by Mets
OFFree Agent  F
October 30, 2017
Aoki was released by the Mets on Monday.
ANALYSIS
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Not in Wednesday lineup
OFNew York Mets  F
September 27, 2017
Aoki is out of the lineup against the Braves on Wednesday, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports.
ANALYSIS
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Out of lineup Friday
OFNew York Mets  F
September 15, 2017
Aoki is not in the starting nine for Friday's game against the Braves.
ANALYSIS
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Settling into everyday role in right field
OFNew York Mets  F
September 4, 2017
Aoki will start in right field and bat second Monday against the Phillies.
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Leading off in second game of doubleheader
OFNew York Mets  F
September 2, 2017
Aoki will start in right field and lead off in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Astros, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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