Aaron Hicks may have hit the nadir of his season — after misplaying two fly balls in left to cost the Yankees an important game against Tampa on a Friday night at Yankee Stadium — yanked from the game as Yankee fans booed him loudly and chanted “Joey.. Gallo” at him.
But if Yankee fans want this team to win a World Series, or advance deep into the playoffs — they might want to rethink that strategy. The Yankees NEED Aaron Hicks to play well and hit well to give them a better chance of winning.
1. Hicks is a Professional Hitter
Aaron Hicks is a professional major league baseball hitter. He can get on base — either working a walk or getting a hit — against a great pitcher who is pitching well.
Hicks is also a switch hitter, and that always helps.
2. Hicks’ OBP Wins the Day
At this point in the season, Hicks’s slash line of 2-6-.211 in 341 at bats (403 plate appearances) appears kind of horrid — but what wins the day is his .326 On Base Percentage (OBP).
Even in this, one of his worst offensive seasons, Hicks’ .326 OBP is 4th on the Yankees amongst regulars (trailing just Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, and Anthony Rizzo). Hicks’ OBP makes him valuable to the Yankee lineup.
Also — the .211 average is deceptive: batting averages are at historic lows this year, possibly due to the computer-aided shift, lack of lively ball, and over-abundance of 98-MPH relief pitchers. Many of the best hitters in the American League are batting .240 or much lower.
Here’s some examples of guys who are typically .300 hitters:
- Ryan Mountcastle: .245 (batted .333 as a rookie)
- Adam Frazier: .240 (has batted over .300 three times)
- Yuli Gurriel: .238 (Gurriel won the batting title last year with a .319 avg)
- Whit Merrifield: .233 (has batted over .300 two times)
3. The Grass Isn’t Necessarily Greener
Many Yankee fans have tweeted their wish for Estevan Florial to replace Hicks this year — but now that Florial is up, you can see the difference between the two.
- Florial was batting .290 (.372 OBP) at AAA Scranton.
- Florial is batting .097 (.200 OBP) in the Majors with the Yanks so far this year after 31 at bats.
Florial has a long swing and good MLB pitchers are taking advantage of him. Maybe someday Florial will be as good as Hicks but he isn’t now.
4. Hicks Is Still a Good Fielder
The two massive blunders Hicks made in left in last night’s game — and the one he made on August 15 against Tampa — are mostly a rarity. He’s made some terrific defensive plays this year — even in the last week. For example this terrific, clutch catch in a 2-1 loss to Tampa on September 3rd.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 3, 2022
Hicks has been making terrific catches all season — here’s one to help Monty back in July:
Hicks is smooth with it 👏 pic.twitter.com/eR48KYd4Hh
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 3, 2022
4a. Hicks’ Arm Is Healthier
There was a time — as recently as 2018 — when Hicks was considered the 2nd best centerfielder in the American League behind Trout. Hicks could hit, hit for power, steal bases, play a very good defensive centerfield, and had a strong, accurate throwing arm.
Then he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in October 2019, and came back lollipop-ing the ball back in 2020 and 2021.
But this year he’s shown off a fully recovered arm — and was surprising runners early in the season — throwing them out attempting to advance on him — for example old friend Gio Urshela earlier this year:
WHAT A THROW 🎯
Aaron Hicks throws out Gio Urshela at the plate! pic.twitter.com/f0o8BnRuQh
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 9, 2022
5. Hicks Is Still in His Prime
Hicks is 32 years old — still considered prime years for a hitter in major league baseball. He turns 33 on October 2nd. His career has recently been interrupted by the arm injury, and COVID (like everyone else). But he’s not a 36-year old ballplayer you put on the shelf. He’s 32. Prime years.
6. The Other Yankee Players Like Hicks
Here is Gerrit Cole on Hicks — when he doubled in 3 runs to cap off a Yankee 7-1 win the other day: “It was nice to see Hicks put the dagger in. That was nice” (Cole smiling) — see very end of video here.
7. Yankee Fans Should Cheer the F’ng Guy
Yankee Stadium fans invented the Bronx Cheer. Fans boo to express their derision and maybe get the manager to pull a player.
But the Yankees need Hicks and it would behoove Yankee fans to cheer the fn’g guy. We all saw what happened with Joey Gallo — as soon as he went to LA he started hitting better.
Here’s Hicks on his errors yesterday — no excuses:
“I gotta make those plays, obviously, to help our team win,” said Hicks. “I got benched. You know. I got benched during the game. That’s rough. Especially when all you want to do is produce for your team, but your first two at bats are strikeouts.”
Aaron Hicks after being removed from the game in the 5th inning pic.twitter.com/Byo6dyzlKv
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 10, 2022
If you want to win — cheer the guy on.
Editor’s Note: a week after this article was published, Aaron Hicks was quoted in the NY Post:
- “I expect [Harrison Bader] to come in and start playing every day, as he should,” Hicks said Saturday, Sept 17th. “He got traded here to help us win. We need him to be himself to win a World Series. When I get opportunities, I’ll try to make the most of them, but it’s extremely hard when I play a game and then I’m off for three days and now there’s another outfielder out there.”
- Asked if he can make it work in New York, Hicks said: “I don’t know. The Yankees are gonna have to make a decision and I’ll wait for whatever happens. It’s not really my call.”
- “Joey Gallo started to play better with the Dodgers and I saw on [a] podcast that [Los Angeles manager] Dave Roberts played a big part of that, with him wanting to get the most out of his players,’’
- “As of right now, I feel the more I play, the better I’m gonna play. That’s not what’s going on right now. Things are tough in New York. I don’t have an answer. If they feel this isn’t the right fit for me, that’s their call. If I do go to another team, I know I can help them win.”
As of this writing Hicks has 415 Plate Appearances this year. It seem he has had ample opportunity.