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.

What happened?

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.

Season Stats

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.

7 Responses

  1. Don

    so he is projecting to be an Adam Dunn/Dave Kingman type of player. That seems to be what MLB wants now. Strike out 25% of the time and hit 40 HRs.

    Suarez stuck out 28% of PAs in 2019 with 49 HRs (7.4%) and he is a franchise cornerstone.

    The projections would seem to be exactly what MLB is trying to put on the field, HRs and K’s.

    • Doug Gray

      No.

      Adam Dunn walked 100 times a year and had very high on-base percentages.

      • David

        Yes, and he was also a terrible outfielder.

        Aquino is a much better outfielder than Adam Dunn ever was.

        But of course, Dunn did walk a lot. From observing the games, he was pitched a certain way, to prevent him from doing too much damage. A walk to Dunn was better than giving up a long homer. Dunn was also not the most disciplined hitter, despite all the walks. Some pitchers just didn’t want to give him anything in the zone.

      • Doug Gray

        Adam Dunn was an incredibly disciplined hitter. Don’t confuse “struck out a lot” with “not disciplined”. Adam Dunn had problems making contact, he didn’t have problems at knowing which pitches were strikes.

  2. The Duke

    August OPS: 1.158
    Sept/Oct OPS: .619

    For a guy who swings and misses as much as he does, I fear that after a few great weeks, MLB pitchers found the hole in his swing and exploited. I think the Reds may think the same considering they dropped big money on Castellanos. I expect he’ll start this year in AAA and have to prove it again. If he does and Castellanos opts out in 2021, then maybe Aquino gets another shot. Possible he could force his way up to the bigs again. We shall see.

    • KDJ

      That would be very tough on a young man . . . to spend a season in AAA after tasting success in MLB.

  3. Northern Ky Reds

    I think he’ll hit better. The league will adjust. His swing however will allow him to stay back and still re adjust. It’s not a hard projection. HitterS typically fall back in year 2, I’m just confused on what the reds are gonna do. Is this a platoon in left with Winker? Plus I don’t want to look at this guy on sports center like I did with encarnacion . I think the realize two things and is that Castellanos will be either traded or walk as a free agent. We have to protect ourselves. Aquino picks up after the trade or free agency. No way Castellanos comes back next year. He’ll pad his stats here and in sure that was the purpose of him signing here.