Tag Archives: Jesus Aguilar

Jesus Aguilar has stopped launching

The Milwaukee Brewers currently employ two players who were key pieces in the team’s NLCS run in 2018. Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar combined for 6.7 WAR and 67 home runs a year ago, and added a plethora of fire power to a dominant offense. The duo came into the 2019 campaign with the high expectations that they could continue to be top-tier run producers. Some even predicted an All-Star appearance for Shaw. It’s funny how quickly things can change, though.

As of June 16, both Shaw and Aguilar have looked lost at the plate. Fans almost revolted when the Brewers sent top prospect Keston Hiura back down to the minors in lieu of Shaw, who’s minor-league rehab stint was over. Meanwhile, Aguilar has lost his starting job to Eric Thames and is struggling to see consistent at bats. The two infielders have combined for -1.6 WAR, nine home runs and on-base percentage of .291 in 370 plate appearances. A far cry from the hitters they were.

So today, let’s take a quick look at Aguilar’s struggles. Let’s see if we can figure out why he’s tied for the second-lowest WAR (-0.9) among every player in baseball this year. Let’s see if we can figure out why his power has disappeared faster than my appetite for Bran Stark’s story line (don’t get me started).

How different is Aguilar’s plate discipline compared to last?

Contact % SwStr% K% BB%
2018 72.6% 12.4% 25.3% 10.2%
2019 72.3% 12.5% 23.3% 12.7%

This is fascinating. His contact percentage is identical, he’s not swinging and missing more often, and he’s actually walking more and striking out less. Aguilar is also chasing pitches out of the zone far more infrequently than he did in 2018, down over four percent. The argument can be made that Aguilar’s plate discipline has actually improved, making his ineptness at the plate even more confusing and more interesting.

Maybe it’s his batted ball profile?

GB% LD% FB% Launch Angle Avg Exit Velocity Hard-Hit %
2018 35.4% 23.7% 40.9% 16.2 89.8 42.5%
2019 41.9% 20.5% 37.6% 14.5 89.6 35.0%

And there it is.

Aguilar has stopped hitting the ball in the air. In other words, he’s stopped launching the ball. His ground-ball rate is a career high, and his launch angle has dropped nearly two degrees. His average exit velocity has remained the same, but the times he’s truly squared up on the ball have become rarer. A “hard-hit” ball is defined as any ball hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher, and Aguilar’s rate is down over seven percent. And when he does barrel up a ball, he’s doing less damage than the rest of the league. His hard-hit balls have resulted in a .586 wOBA, while league average wOBA on hard-hit balls is .669. He’s hitting too many grounders when he hits the ball hard to do damage.

There are a lot of positives in Aguilar’s game that makes me optimistic for him going forward. His plate discipline is the same, if not better, and his eye at the plate is still great. The biggest issue facing Aguilar is his lack off fly balls and hard-hit fly balls. His power has been zapped because of that. If Aguilar ups his launch angle a few degrees, odds are he’ll revert to the dependable, home-run hitter he was just a short year ago.

You may not buy into the launch-angle revolution that’s taken over baseball, but Aguilar will need to buy in and buy in quickly if he wants to start producing. The Brewers need his bat, they need his power and they need to be ably to rely on him. He may not be the 134 wRC+ hitter he was in 2018, but his current 63 wRC+ is completely unacceptable, and honestly unsustainable. There’s enough in Aguilar’s swing profile to think he can turn it around soon.

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Random stats and the Milwaukee Brewers

We are over two months into the 2019 Major League Baseball season, and we’ve already been witness to some weird and funky things, not just with the Milwaukee Brewers, but around the league as a whole. Derek Dietrich and Tommy La Stella have both turned into Barry Bonds. Hunter Pence thinks it’s 2011. And Joey Gallo has a .395 BABIP (ban the shift though, right?).

The Brewers also have had their fair share of interesting stories. Some good and some bad. I thought it’d be fun to take a look at a few stats you don’t normally come across. Below I’ve highlighted a few Brewers players whom I’ve found fascinating so far this season. Some of these statistics mean something. Some of these don’t.

Christian Yelich posted a a 213 wRC+ in March/April. In May, his wRC+ sits at 136, which is still great, but definitely not MVP-caliber. His strikeout rate has risen over three percent, while his groundball rate has also gone up.

Jesus Aguilar is striking out less, he’s making nearly the same amount of contact and has an identical exit velocity as he did in 2018. The issue, it would seem, is how he’s hitting the ball. Aguilar’s launch angle has gone from 16.2 degrees to 12.9 degrees. That’s a considerable drop, and it’s the main culprit for his increased groundball rate (up eight percent) and decreased fly-ball rate (down five percent).

Yasmani Grandal has two triples. The Miami Marlins have just one triple. Grandal is in the 12th percentile in sprint speed, making this even more hilarious and more embarrassing for the already laughable Marlins.

Alex Claudio has allowed a .250 wOBA versus lefties and a .450 wOBA against righties. Right-handed hitters are slashing .342/.405/.684 against Claudio, so maybe it’s time to use Claudio as a specialist.

Brandon Woodruff has a 1.36 ERA and a 2.70 FIP over his last five starts. He’s struck out 31.9 percent of batters during that span. No wonder teams were trying to pry him away from the Brewers during last year’s trade deadline.

Lorenzo Cain currently has a career-low batting average on balls in play of .292. He owns a career BABIP mark of .342, so one could expect Cain’s production to skyrocket once the positive regression bug bites him. His exit velocity is down a bit, but not enough to explain a below-league average BABIP.

Corbin Burnes has the 13th-highest strikeout rate (30.3 percent) in baseball among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. His other stats all look atrocious, but it’s clear the talent is there. Be patient with the man.

Josh Hader has the highest strikeout rate of 51.5 percent among qualified relievers. That’s good. But he’s also getting mashed when hitters make contact with his pitchers. That’s not good. Hader has allowed an exit velocity of 91.9 mph, which is in the third percentile. Only 13 pitchers have allowed harder contact. Ouch.

Eric Thames hasn’t homered since April 24, despite getting the bulk of the playing time. Thames has still managed to be a productive hitter even without his Hulk power. He’s getting on base at a .365 clip and has an above-league average wRC+ of 109.