By: Noah Wright
The Milwaukee Brewers entered the day 45-36. Good for first place in The NL Central. They’ve gotten here because of their great bullpen, and excellent outfield consisting mainly of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, along with Ryan Braun, Hernan Perez, Eric Thames, and Domingo Santana (before he was optioned). However, there’s been one standout guy in their line-up. Who’s really brought the big bat The Brew Crew needs. That’s where first baseman Jesus Aguilar steps in. But it wasn’t easy to get to being a potential 2018 All-Star. Let’s look at Jesus Aguilar’s trip on how he became roster filler for The Indians, to slugging first baseman for The Brewers.
Aguilar was originally signed by The Cleveland Indians out of Venezuela as an amature free agent. In the minors, Aguilar showed a good amount of power. In 2011, Aguilar hit 23 home runs, and had a .506 slugging % in 2011 split between low and high single-A in The Indians organization. However, Aguilar wasn’t an all power guy. He also had a decent average (.284), and on base skills (.359 OBP) in 521 PA’s. His performance earned him a MILB all-star call. He would receive another all-star call in 2013, when the big first baseman hit 16 homers, had a .427 slugging %, and continued to show good contact and on base skills (.275/.349) in 567 PA’s. Aguilar made another MILB all-star appearance in 2014. Now in triple-A, Aguilar raised his average and OBP to another level, when he hit .304 and had a .395 OBP, while keeping the good power (19 homers, .515 slugging %) in 499 PA’s. Early in the 2014 season, Aguilar received his first major league call-up, and made his debut on May 15th. However, he only played 19 games, and would start the next year in the minors, but made The Indians’ top 30 prospect list. In 2015, Aguilar had a career low .332 OBP, and a below career average .439 slugging % in 570 PA’s. Aguilar would only play 7 games with The Indians that season, and was sent back down to the minors for most of the 2016 season. Still in Triple-A, Aguilar’s on base skills, and contact continued to diminish, with just a .319 OBP, and .247 average in 578 PA’s. However, he kept his power, blasting 30 homers, and kept a .427 slugging %. But in January 2017, The Cleveland Indians signed big free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion. With Encarnacion and Carlos Santana likely sharing first base and DH duties, Aguilar became expendable. By January 27th, Jesus Aguilar was DFA’ed.
On February 2nd, 2017, exactly on groundhog day, The Milwaukee Brewers claimed Aguilar off waivers from The Indians. At the end of the 2016 season, The Brewers signed big slugger Eric Thames. Thames had just come off of a successful stint in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), and was ready to takeover first base duties for The Milwaukee Brewers. As a platoon, Thames and Aguilar shared first base throughout the season. Aguilar did his end of the job. He crushed left handed pitching, and had a .302/.370/.531 overall line against them. Plus, his fielding wasn’t bad either, as he had 2 DRS, 1.4 UZR, and -.2 defensive WAR. Overall, Aguilar hit a decent .265/.331/.505 with 16 homers and 52 RBI’s in 311 PA’s, showing the OBP and slugging skills he did in the minors.
Entering 2018, Aguilar was behind Eric Thames, and now Ryan Braun on the first base depth chart, after The Brewers acquired Christian Yelich, and signed Lorenzo Cain. But that didn’t stop him from being good. In April, Aguilar hit a tremendous .378/.423/.533 in 52 PA’s. Then, injuries struck. In mid-May, Ryan Braun was placed in the 10-day, and Thames was already on The DL after having to undergo foot surgery in late April. This gave Jesus Aguilar a chance, a chance he never had at regular playing time, and he capitalized on it. Since May 1st, Aguilar owns a .276/.339/.615 batting line, along with 15 homers in 177 PA’s. Even though Thames and Braun have been activated from The DL, Aguilar’s amazing performance has given The Brewers enough reason to let Aguilar be the regular first baseman. Now, Braun and Thames platoon one of the corner outfield spots. On the season, Aguilar has a .299/.358/.597 batting line, to go with 16 homers, 50 RBI’s and 150 wRC+ in 229 PA’s. His OPS of .955 is higher than that of Joey Votto, Aaron Judge, and Manny Machado.
The Brewers have had good production from guys like Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Travis Shaw. But none of their offense can compare to what their now first baseman Jesus Aguilar has done. His production at the plate is one of the biggest reasons of why The Brewers are in first place of The NL Central.
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