PITTSBURGH -- Don't forget outfielder Norichika Aoki in the National League Rookie of the Year race, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke urged voters on Thursday. Aoki bolstered his manager's case by leading off Thursday's 9-7 win over the Pirates with a single, giving him his fourth hitting streak of at least 10 games this season. The last to do that was the Cardinals' Bake McBride in 1974, and McBride won NL rookie honors that season. Yet Aoki is considered an underdog to other NL rookies, including Cincinnati's Todd Frazier, Arizona's Wade Miley and the rookie with the best name recognition but not the best numbers: Washington's Bryce Harper.
"He definitely needs to be talked about," Roenicke said of Aoki. "I think when you look at Frazier's numbers, I think those numbers are a little bit ahead of everybody. But if you look at what Nori has done for us, and you take his defense, also, take his base-stealing and baserunning -- how do you compare a guy with RBIs [to] a leadoff guy? Roenicke's bottom line: "What Nori is doing for us definitely should get him into that talk." Aoki has boosted his average to .293, with nine home runs and 46 RBIs while batting mostly as a leadoff man. His 28 stolen bases led NL rookies. Frazier finished Thursday hitting .280 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs. Miley, a left-hander, was 15-10 with a 3.10 ERA. Aoki is different from those players in that he spent seven seasons in Japan before the Brewers signed him to a two-year contract last winter. "I don't think of him as a rookie, but I understand the difficulty in coming over here your first year, trying to adapt to everything," Roenicke said. "That's hard, to put that on a player. He's got to perform, but he's got to adapt to everything we do. I think that's an important thing to consider."