Michael Aubrey, first baseman
Is his power spike for real?
It looks as though Michael Aubrey made the conscious decision to hit for more power at the expense of making contact. After being a consistent .280 hitter with 8 home runs over the past two seasons, he increased his power (.495 slugging percentage, 25 doubles, 22 home runs) but at the expense of his batting average (.235, leading to a .310 on-base percentage).
It’s likely that Aubrey, seeing Harbor Park, realized that if he were to be productive at all he would have to learn to hit flyballs right down the right-field line. The power alleys are huge and the park is at sea level, so his previous line-drive approach wouldn’t work. He probably came out ahead on the deal; with an .805 OBP in 2010 compared to a consistent .750 OBP previously.
But it’s probably not enough to save his career. His approach would work in Camden Yards or the old Yankee Stadium, but would be problematic in any park that didn’t have a short right-field porch. If Aubrey could hit .280 with 22 home runs in a season at Norfolk, then he could be a real option at first base. He really would be Sean Casey. We won’t find out, as he’s left the organization.
Is he one of the great what-ifs?
He’ll probably go down as a first-round draft pick whose career was derailed by injuries. It’s unfair that players whose careers are destroyed by injuries get labeled as “draft busts”, but that’s life. After playing fairly well in AA as a 22-year-old, Aubrey missed 2 1/2 of the next three seasons with injuries. By the time he came back, he was 26 and other players had bypassed him in the system. We’ll never know what he would have been had he not gotten hurt.