Milwaukee Brewers 30-year-old rookie outfielder Norichika Aoki has had a solid first year in the majors, after playing professional baseball in Japan since 2004. Aoki currently has a .280 batting average with five home runs and 21 RBI. He had a 15-game hitting streak earlier this season and tied a team record with four stolen bases in a game on June 24.
His rookie stats place him in the top five in several rookie offensive categories, including hits, runs and stolen bases. However, over the past 17 games, he has struggled at the plate, hitting only .215 since July 6.
Whether or not he will receive significant support in the National League Rookie of the Year voting remains to be seen, but he has an uphill battle, with other rookies like Washington’s Bryce Harper and Arizona pitcher Wade Miley getting the most buzz. Chicago Cubs rookie Anthony Rizzo is also getting some support since his call-up from the minors. Another National League rookie to watch as the season comes to a close? Milwaukee pitcher Mike Fiers.
In any case Aoki has a chance to finish in the top five in the voting for NL ROY.
Brewers fans will remember that two players in the franchise's history have won rookie of the year: Pat Listach, in 1992 and in the American League, and Ryan Braun, who won National League ROY in 2007. In total the team has had 12 players finish in the top five of ROY voting since the franchise began, in 1969.
Here’s a look at those dozen rookies.
Rookie of the Year Award Winners
1992: Pat Listach, infielder
2007: Ryan Braun, outfielder
Rookie of the Year Runners-Up
1971: Bill Parsons, pitcher (Chris Chambliss won the award.)
1973: Pedro Garcia, infielder (Al Bumbry won the award.)
1978: Paul Molitor, infielder (Lou Whitaker won the award.)
1985: Teddy Higuera, pitcher (Ozzie Guillen won the award.)
2003: Scott Podsednik, outfielder (Dontrell Willis won the award.)
Rookie of the Year Third Place
1973: Darrell Porter, catcher
1985: Ernie Riles, infielder
Rookie of the Year Fourth Place
1988: Don August, pitcher
1992: Cal Eldred, pitcher
Rookie of the Year Fifth Place
2009: Casey McGehee, infielder
Other Receiving Votes
Doug Henry (1991), Jose Valentin (1994), Steve Sparks (1995), Jeff D’Amico (1996), Alex Sanchez (2002), Rickie Weeks (2005), Prince Fielder (2006).
Since 1998, when the Brewers moved to the National League, the team has had only three players finish in the top five of the league ROY voting: Podsednik, Braun and McGehee.
The Atlanta Braves lead the league, with nine first-year players who have finished in the top five in NL ROY voting since ’98.
Teams with the Most Players in the Top 5 of NL ROY Voting Since 1998
9: Atlanta Braves
8: Miami Marlins
5: St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros
4: Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals
3: Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs
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