Mariners Analysis: Who Should Hit Leadoff for Seattle in 2016?

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Aug 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Nori Aoki (23) attempts to bunt for a hit against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nori Aoki – LF

The 33-year-old outfielder has to be viewed as the early favorite right now to hit leadoff for the Mariners in 2016. The M’s signed Nori Aoki as a free agent in early December, and he is likely to become a fan favorite in the Emerald City. Aoki does the little things very well, and is the most experienced leadoff hitter on the club.

Aoki spent the 2015 season with the San Francisco Giants. Injuries derailed his season, but Aoki still managed to be a productive player for the Giants. He slashed .287/.353/..380 with 5 home runs and 26 RBI across 93 games. He also tallied 12 doubles and 3 triples.

The Hyunga, JP product has started 415 games as the leadoff hitter during his career. Aoki is an on base machine, posting a .286 batting average and a .354 on base percentage hitting at the top of the order. He has slugged 19 home runs, driven in 130 runs and stolen 67 bags as a leadoff hitter.

Aoki will be 34 years old on Opening Day, but he is still considered a threat to steal. He swipes bases with his brain rather than his legs, and he has stolen 81 bases over the past four seasons. Aoki’s wheels are more than sufficient to hit at the top of the M’s lineup.

Baseball Reference is expecting another strong season from Nori Aoki in 2016. They predict he will hit .277 with 5 home runs, 33 RBI and 12 stolen bases through 451 plate appearances. FanGraphs is also projecting big things for Aoki next season. They believe he will hit .270 with 6 home runs, 48 RBI and 17 stolen bases across 134 games.

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