Milwaukee Brewers’ Norichika Aoki Finishes 5th in NL Rookie of the Year Voting

By Michael Terrill

Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki placed fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting that took place Monday night. The Baseball Writers Association of America votes on the award and named Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year.

Harper received 16 first place, eight second place and eight third place votes that tallied up to 112 points. The 20-year-old batted .270 with 22 home runs, 56 RBIs, 26 doubles, nine triples, 98 runs scored and 18 stolen bases in 533 plate appearances. The fact the Nationals posted the best record in the NL and clinched their division certainly helped Harper.

Starting pitcher Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks came in second right behind Harper with 12 first place, 13 second place and six third place votes for a total of 105 points. Miley went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 32 appearances, including 29 starts.

Fans in Milwaukee may feel Aoki got cheated as he put up solid numbers for his first season in the Major Leagues. The former Japanese sensation led all NL rookies in hits (150) and tied for first in stolen bases (30) and outfield assists (8). Aoki was also second in doubles (37) as well as runs scored (81), third in batting average (.288), fourth in triples (4), and sixth in RBIs (50) and home runs (10).

Aoki did not receive any first place votes but he did acquire two second place and five third place tallies for a total of 11 points. The two second place votes came from Paul White of USA Today and Dennis Semrau of the Wisconsin State Journal.

“It was my first experience over here, so there were some tough times,” Aoki said via translator. “But overall, I had a great time.”

The 30-year-old also became the first NL rookie to have four hit streaks of at least 10 games in his first season in the majors since Bake McBride accomplished the rare feat in 1974 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Aoki recorded streaks of 15, 13, 12 and 10 games during the 2012 season.

Aoki began the year on the bench and was used strictly as a pinch hitter. However, when Nyjer Morgan began to struggle mightily at the plate and Corey Hart was moved to first base in place of the injured Mat Gamel, Aoki found himself starting in right field on a daily basis.

Also, when Rickie Weeks stumbled as the leadoff hitter, manager Ron Roenicke elected to test Aoki at the top of the batting order. The move paid off as Aoki got on base consistently and was a huge spark for the Brewers offensively when the team had their early season struggles.

Aoki tied George Scott and Corey Hart’s franchise record of 18 extra-base hits in September/October and was named the Player of the Month by the Brewers.

“I was blessed to have all these great teammates, the coaching staff as well,” Aoki said. “As the only Japanese guy on the team, they opened up to me with open arms. It was fun.”

Fans in Milwaukee have every reason to be pumped for the 2013 season after the Brewers finished this past year as the top ranked offense in the NL. Not to mention, every single position player will be returning next season. Hopefully, Aoki and the rest of the team can continue their dominance so Milwaukee can get another shot at a World Series berth.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

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