With two-strike count, Brewers’ Aguilar down but definitely not out

Milwaukee Brewers' Jesus Aguilar (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP

There used to be a time in Major League Baseball where players would choke up on the bat with two strikes, trying to just put the ball in play.

Looking at the ever-increasing number of strikeouts over the years, it’s obvious this strategy of hitting went by the wayside long ago.

However, that doesn’t mean players can’t be successful when they are one strike away from heading back to the bench. Case in point Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar.

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While Aguilar has struck out 45 times this season, he’s also hit seven home runs when batting with two strikes — which is tied for the most in the major leagues in those situations.

When faced with two strikes in the count, Aguilar is batting .269/.333/.527 with 22 RBI. Only Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario, with 24, has more RBI with two strikes. Aguilar ranks third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.860) and seventh in batting average in two-strike counts.

After being down in the count 0-2, Aguilar is batting .364 with a .697 slugging percentage.

When swinging on an 0-2 pitch, Aguilar is likewise batting .364 (8 for 22). Of those who have had at least 20 plate appearances when swinging on an 0-2 count, only Houston’s Jose Altuve (.385) has a higher batting average.

On a 1-2 pitch, Aguilar is batting .333 (8 for 24), which is fourth in the majors (min. 20 PA) while his .625 slugging percentage ranks just behind Boston’s Mookie Betts (.636).

Aguilar has served as more than an ample fill-in for Eric Thames, who has been on the disabled list since late April. On the season, he’s batting .295/.367/.538 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI, and is 10th in the National League in home runs per at-bats (15.6).

In his 1 1/3 seasons with the Brewers, Aguilar has compiled 491 plate appearances heading into Friday’s game in Philadelphia. In that time, he’s batting .276/.344/.517 with 26 home runs and 84 RBI.

With Thames on a rehab assignment and due back to Milwaukee shortly, manager Craig Counsell is going to have to continue to find Aguilar playing time, as well as Thames and a loaded outfield. We’d say these are good problems to have.

Other notes:

— Friday will be the only game under the lights in Milwaukee’s series in Philadelphia. Too bad. The Brewers are 25-13 (.658) in night games this year, the second-best winning percentage in MLB.

— In his last 10 starts, Milwaukee’s Jhoulys Chacin is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA and .203 opponent batting average.

— Chacin has allowed just 10 earned runs in 42 1/3 innings against the Phillies in his career. That 2.13 ERA ranks third in MLB among active pitchers since 2009 (when Chacin made his debut; min. 40 innings). In his last three road starts, Chacin is 2-0 allowing three earned runs in 18 innings with an opponent batting average of .148.

— Philadelphia is 4-10 in home games against the Brewers since 2014; only Arizona at home vs. Washington has been a more lopsided series by NL teams at home in that span.

— The Phillies are 3-8 since May 27, averaging just 2.9 runs per game.

Statistics courtesy STATS and baseball-reference