Another day closer to the 2020 season – we’re just under two months away from opening day – but we’re still looking back at 2019 and today we’re going to look back at the season for outfielder Aristides Aquino.
The Preseason Projection
Aristides Aquino was entering the 2019 season after a year in which he showed plenty of power in Double-A Pensacola, but struggled to hit for average or get on base. The Reds dropped him off of the 40-man roster following the 2018 season, but quickly re-signed him to a minor league deal for 2019. Here’s what Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection system projected for Aquino prior to the season.
The 2019 Season
The year for Aristides Aquino began in Triple-A Louisville where he had a big April, slugging .633 with nine extra-base hits in 15 games. But a shoulder injury placed him on the injured list near the end of the month and he missed about four weeks before returning in late May. Upon his return, the outfielder went wild, pummeling International League pitchers with a .302/.358/.637 line in the 63 games from May 18th through July 30th – including 24 home runs in that stretch.
When August began, it was time for The Punisher to make his presence known in the Major Leagues. The Cincinnati Reds had seen enough of Aquino doing damage in Triple-A and wanted to see if he could carry it forward to the highest level, calling him up on August 1st. It did. At least initially. The new Reds right fielder had a huge August, hitting .320/.391/.767 and was breaking home run records for about a two week stretch for most career home runs in X-number of career plate appearances to begin a career. But for as good as August was, September wasn’t. In 27 games in the season’s final month, Aquino hit just .196/.236/.382 with six walks and 34 strikeouts.
The change in his swing, and perhaps some juiced baseball (to be fair, Aquino’s got ridiculous power either way) helped turn around a career that looked to be going in the wrong direction just a year earlier. Between Triple-A and the Major Leagues, the slugger from the Dominican Republic hit a combined .283/.339/.611 with 21 doubles, a triple, and 47 home runs.
There’s a lot of power in the game for Aristides Aquino, but there’s a lot of swing-and-miss, too. In Cincinnati he struck out 27% of the time he stepped to the plate, and walked just 7% of the time. Ideally you want those two numbers to be a little closer together. You can get away with it if you’re going to slug .576, like he did, but if there’s something to keep an eye on moving forward, that’s where to look.
What’s to come?
Aristides Aquino could have a big impact on the Cincinnati Reds offense in 2020. And that can go both directions. If he’s capable of repeating what he did in 2019, but over the course of a full season, you’re talking about a potential 40 home run season – and that’s obviously going to help the offense put runs on the board. But if he can’t quite do what he did, and the the strikeout-to-walk ratio issue rears it’s ugly head and causes a step backwards for Aquino, he could start to lose playing time in a crowded outfield – but not before that lack of production has shown up on the field.
Unlike some of the earlier articles in this series, we’ve got more projections to look at today as we’re closer to the start of the next season. For Aquino you’ve got a mixed bag. Marcels thinks the steps forward in 2019 are sustainable. ZiPS isn’t quite as sold, projecting a. 291 on-base percentage and a .479 slugging percentage for the outfielder.