Norichika Aoki is creeping up on the NL All-Star voting, trailing Giancarlo Stanton by fewer than 50,000 votes. He's getting support from the wave of Royals partisans. He's getting support from overseas. And he's getting support from Giants fans, who have been known to rig an election or two.
He's also creeping up on the NL leaderboards, hitting .336 with a .404 on-base percentage. It's time to appreciate him and support his candidacy for the National League All-Star Team.
This is kind of difficult for me, as Stanton is one of my absolute all-time favorite players to watch. His raw power and underrated grace are compelling enough to make me want to watch the All-Star Game on his own. It would take a pretty special player to force me to argue against him.
Aoki is that player, though. There's just something about him that I can't put my finger on.
The decision is made easy, considering how well he's hitting. The lofty batting average is coming with a .357 batting average on balls in play -- high, but not ludicrously so. He's probably not this good, but we've known for three years that he's been plenty good enough to start as a corner outfielder, despite his relative lack of power. Getting him in the All-Star game would be a reward for his hot start, but it would also be an acknowledgement that his career has been pretty cool, so far.
It's more than that, though. The All-Star Game isn't just about hot first halves and April/May stats. It's about the players you enjoy watching. And for whatever reason, I can't watch Aoki without a big ol' grin on my face. He's absolutely compelling.
There's no specific reason why, of course, so it would be hard to convince the masses of this without them watching every Aoki game. That's why we're lucky to have the support of international voting and the Royals mafia.
What is it about Aoki, though? What sort of magic does he possess? Am I making too much of this?
Somehow, I don't think so. The ineffable qualities of Aoki, the incontestable watchability of a slash-and-hack singles artist are unique to this player, and we should appreciate him.
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He is not our treasure to keep hidden.
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He is our treasure to share.
For this hard-to-quantify reason, and because he can't stop hitting, I urge you to support Norichika Aoki for the All-Star Game.
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The Giants should be represented well on the roster. But they have a chance to start the player who can entertain the masses the most, even if we don't know exactly why he's so entertaining.
Really, he's just a guy who plays hard and enjoys making contact.
For some reason, though, I can't look away. Let's share that with the world. Thank you for your time, and remember to vote Norichika Aoki.