Aguilar returning to All-Star form early on

Miami's first baseman hits fourth homer of season vs. deGrom in loss

August 9th, 2020

A change of scenery has worked out nicely for Marlins first baseman .

In the offseason, the Marlins made it clear they were in the market for a middle-of-the-order threat. Aguilar, an All-Star in 2018, became the choice, and thus far he is delivering.

Aguilar launched a two-run homer off Jacob deGrom in the fifth inning on Sunday, but the blast was not enough in the Marlins’ 4-2 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. Miami dropped two of three in the series.

, the former United States Olympic silver medalist in speed skating, went 3-for-4, collecting his first big league hits.

The Marlins (7-3) have dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season. But it’s undeniable the club is heading in the right direction. In many ways, it is following Aguilar’s lead.

The slugger has been an anchor hitting in the heart of the order and playing first base, with an occasional designated hitter day. Aguilar has already connected on four home runs and is hitting .306 with eight RBIs.

“To me, he's more well-rounded than given credit for,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He struggled last year. But the year before, you could see it. He could hit the ball the opposite way. He's got a pretty good feel for sitting on breaking balls and what pitchers are trying to do. Then, you jump into his personality, which has just been awesome for us.”

A native of Venezuela, Aguilar has an infectious personality, and he keeps things light on and off the field.

With on the mound, the Marlins hung tough against deGrom, who gave up the Aguilar homer with six strikeouts in five innings. López allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings.

López noted that Aguilar’s homer gave the club a spark.

“From the pitching standpoint, I was really fired up to go to the mound, because I know the offense has my back,” López said. “His presence, on and off the field, is big. He's here to win. He's here to provide for us. ... He's a big presence for us.”

The Marlins struck out 12 times, but they also dealt with some frustration over home-plate umpire Mark Carlson’s strike zone.

“It's just frustrating for guys, that's all,” Mattingly said. “You have to stay with your plan, because you feel like the ball is off the plate away, and there really is nothing you're going to do with that.”

The Marlins claimed Aguilar off waivers from the Rays in December after he had a down year in 2019. But with the Brewers in ‘18, he was an All-Star, hitting 35 homers with 108 RBIs.

The analytics show Aguilar is returning to the form he showed two years ago. Per Statcast, his 91.1 mph exit velocity is in the 82nd percentile in the Majors. In 2018, his average was 89.8 mph, so he is hitting the ball with authority.

His average launch angle entering Sunday was 19.1 degrees. It was 13.8 last year and 16.2 in 2018.

Aguilar’s homer on Sunday came off an elevated 97 mph fastball inside. Statcast projected the homer at 380 feet, with an exit speed of 102.8 mph and a 37 degree launch angle, making it a moonshot.

“I know that he's a big guy, so everybody automatically thinks he's just this power monster,” Mattingly said. “He's got plenty of power, but this guy can hit. He's got good hands. He doesn't strike out that much. He's got a good eye up there.”