There hasn't been a tougher player in the major leagues to strike out this season than Norichika Aoki. The Milwaukee Brewers' rightfielder has fanned just 12 times in 262 plate appearances, and he hasn't whiffed in his last 58 plate appearances — a streak that dates to May 25, when Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke got him. His rate of 21.5 plate appearances between strikeouts ranks well ahead of San Francisco's Marco Scutaro (16.0) and American League leader Nick Markakis of Baltimore (13.2). It's also helped lead to an on-base percentage of .365, which ranks fourth on the Brewers. Aoki is also on the cusp of putting together the longest streak of plate appearances without a strikeout by a Brewers player since Brady Clark reached 60 from April 28-May 11, 2005. "I feel like as long as I put the ball in play, something good can happen," Aoki said through interpreter Kosuke Inaji. "I can get an infield hit, the defense could make an error. It's just giving myself a chance to get on base." That last part is key, according to manager Ron Roenicke. "I mean, that's impressive. No doubt," Roenicke said. "But I don't want it to become a thing where he's not giving you the good at-bat where he's trying to drive the ball instead of just putting it in play because he hasn't struck out. "So it depends on what goes on with those at-bats. I still see him squaring up a lot of baseballs. He's run into a lot of bad luck lately — especially the last three games. I like that he's going to put the ball in play; I think that's really important. "But (not striking out) can't be a focus." Since becoming a starter with the Brewers midway through last May, Aoki has hit almost exclusively leadoff. In his seven years in Japan's Central League, Aoki regularly hit third and even fourth at times.
Brewers' Aoki avoiding strikeouts
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jun 8