The Japanese outfielder turns 31 today.
On this day in 1982 Norichika Aoki was born in Hyuga, Japan. He played eight seasons for the Yakult Swallows of Japan's Pacific League before the Brewers won an auction for his negotiating rights a year ago and brought him to the US.
No one knew exactly what to expect from Aoki in his major league debut season, but I think it's safe to say he exceeded everyone's expectations. Aoki appeared in 151 games for the Brewers in 2012 and hit .288/.355/.433 with ten home runs and went 30-for-38 stealing bases, finishing second on the team with 37 doubles and striking out just 55 times in 588 plate appearances.
Aoki was only the third player in franchise history to collect 150 hits in his rookie season:
The Brewers have Aoki under contract for 2013 and hold a club option for 2014 with a combined value under $4 million. If he continues to produce at anything near this level, he'll be a bargain.
- 2001-03 Brewer Ruben Quevedo, who turns 34.
- 1986-88 Brewer Juan Nieves, who turns 48.
- Ron Kittle, 2004 inductee into the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame, who turns 55.
- 1976-92 Brewer Jim Gantner, who turns 60. We covered his birthday in this space last year.