Many of you would probably agree with me that batting average was a huge stat twenty years ago. If we were having this conversation back then, there would be serious concern about keeping a .259 hitter in the cleanup spot for a Marlins team with surprising playoff aspirations, right?
But we’re in 2020. We evaluate using lots of statistics, old and new, to determine how good or bad a ballplayer is. That’s why we see beyond Jesús Aguilar’s ordinary batting average.
The Venezuelan—who hasn’t excelled in OBP either (.313)—carries a .667 slugging percentage along with a .979 OPS. Through eight games, he already has three home runs (team leader), six runs batted in, and five scored runs (also team leader).
But there’s more! Five of Aguilar’s six RBIs were with the Marlins tied or behind. Let’s see:
- His two-run home run on Opening Day came in the sixth inning with a tied score 1-1.
- His solo shot on July 26 against the Phillies began a rally when the Marlins were down 4-0. At the end of the inning, it was all tied!
- His sacrifice fly on Wednesday facing the Orioles opened the score for the Marlins in the bottom of the first episode.
- Also, his sac fly from Thursday produced the seventh run for Miami. They ended up winning 8-7.
How valuable is that! Besides, the first baseman’s quality contact is good for a .694 expected slugging percentage and a .404 expected wOBA. Those are elite numbers. Imagine what the season could look like for him if he begins hitting well against fastballs. Jesús hasn’t done that so far as he’s 1-for-10 against the heater (that only hit was a home run).
Aguilar has been trying to find his old rhythm from 2018, when he hit 25 doubles and 35 four-baggers. And it seems he finally found it after a rough 2019 campaign between Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, in which he only sent 12 balls over the fence across 131 games.
In fact, Aguilar’s third dinger last year came in the 27th game of the season, when he was slashing .163/.244/.300. This time, in his first year as a Marlin, he only took four games.
With Garrett Cooper sidelined by COVID-19 and Lewin Díaz still finalizing his development at the alternate training site in Jupiter, the Marlins lack a high-caliber first base back-up plan on their active roster. So far, Aguilar has given them no reason to sweat about that.