Regression Candidate: Jesus Aguilar
Each week I’ll be looking in to a regression candidate at each position. These are going to be more of a stat based, analytical deep dive on a specific player. The projections next to the player names are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projection systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 1/01/2019-02/11/2019. What will Aguilar do for an encore to his breakout 2018?
Jose Aguilar, MIL (ADP 80): 580 PA, 75 R, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB, .253/.327/.484/.811
Projection systems are mixed on what Aguilar’s outlook is for 2019 but the average of the four I used are showing a fine player, just not a special one. It’s natural to look at a hitter that had his big breakout at age 28 and be skeptical. In only his second full big league season, Aguilar hit slashed .274/.352/.539/.890 with 35 dingers. Clearly, he’s a regression candidate based on those two factors, but I’m seeing some signs in his profile that can limit the regression.
The biggest question outside of his late bloomer status is whether or not he can keep the starting job at first base all season. He was expected to struggle to get playing time last season but he took off and Eric Thames had a lost year resulting in 566 PA’s. He’s certainly going to enter the year as the starter at first base but any injuries or early underperformance and he could find himself back on the short side of a platoon.
Aguilar crushes the ball when he makes contact, ranking 21st in the league in hard hit percentage and his strikeout percentage isn’t abnormally high for a power hitter (25.3%). He had the 11th highest HR/FB% in the league, but the names around him are proven, long term sluggers. It’s not unusual to maintain a high HR/FB% when you hit the ball in the air as hard as he does. Add in the fact that he hits in a great lineup in a top 10 park for home runs and this seems like a great profile to invest in. The odds are high that he’s got a stranglehold on the Brewers first base job and that makes him a good bet to outperform his projections.