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Wednesday, March 24, 2010
One2Watch4: Angels IF Erick Aybar

By Katie Sharp, ESPN Stats & Info

Erick Aybar is on the move...

After hitting primarily in the second and ninth spot in the order last season, Aybar is slated to replace Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup – which makes him One2Watch4 in 2010. So what can Halos fans expect from Aybar in the leadoff spot this season?

One key part of Aybar’s offensive toolbox is his ability to lay down bunts. Last season he led all major league players with 18 bunt hits.

Aybar’s overall speed and baserunning smarts will also be an asset once he reaches base from the leadoff spot. According to baseball-reference.com, Aybar advanced an extra base (more than one base on a single and more than two bases on a double) 62% of the time when possible, which ranked fourth among players with at least 550 plate appearances last season.However, there are several areas of Aybar’s approach at the plate that do not fit the typical high-walk, patient, disciplined profile of a leadoff guy:

" Aybar walked in just 5.4 percent of his plate appearances, the 17th-worse mark in the majors. The guy he’s replacing – Figgins – walked in 17.9 percent of his plate appearances, the 17th-BEST mark in the majors.

" Aybar saw just 3.47 pitches per plate appearance, the 16th-lowest rate in the majors. Not surprisingly, Figgins was one of the most patient hitters in the league, with 4.21 pitches seen per plate appearance, the 11th-BEST rate in MLB.

" Aybar swung at 36.3 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone, the 5th-highest rate in the majors.

" Finally, Aybar’s first-pitch strike percentage of 65.3 percent was the highest in the majors last season.

Yet, don’t give up hope, all you SoCal halo fans out there. While Aybar chases a lot of pitches and often finds himself behind in the count, he’s proven to be resilient in those situations:

" Aybar makes contact on a whopping 79.7 percent of those pitches chased out of the zone, which ranks eighth in MLB.

" Aybar had a batting average of .314 after 0-1 counts, the 5th-best mark in the majors in those situations.

If Aybar can continue to use his speed to get on base and advance on the basepaths, while also improving his discipline and patience at the plate, he’ll be One2Watch4 as the Angels' new and exciting leadoff batter in 2010.