Despite entering this season as a fourth outfielder, Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees is making a stellar case for the All-Star game.
Remember when Aaron Hicks was nothing more than a target of laughter for New York Yankees fans? Oh, how the times have changed.
Now, coming off a season in which he batted under the Mendoza line for quite some time, New York’s switch-hitting fourth outfielder is putting himself in range to secure a spot on the American League All-Star team on July 11 at Marlins Park.
No, his name isn’t even mentioned in the Top-15 voting for AL outfielders, but that’s quite understandable. Aaron Judge leads the way with 1,251,543 votes with Brett Gardner, who is on pace to hit 37 home runs, is at nine with 364,493 votes and Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been on the disabled list with a concussion for a couple weeks rounds out the list at 15.
But, Hicks, who has filled in impeccably for Ellsbury is making two cases right now. 1) the Yankees might not be able to afford to slide him into his fourth outfielder’s role upon Ellsbury’s return and 2) he deserves to be an All-Star. Heck, at least some consideration.
Since New York’s $153 million man went down on May 24, Hicks owns a .378/.434/.533 slash line with seven doubles and 11 RBIs in 13 games while reaching base safely in 32-of-his-36 starts this season. Overall, the 27-year-old is slashing .319/.433/.563 with eight home runs, 11 doubles, 30 walks and an OPS of .995.
That type of production has helped him climb toward the top of the AL in many offensive categories. Hicks ranks fifth in wRC+ (168) and walk rate (16.8 %) while ranking third in on-base percentage (.433), eighth in batting average (.309) and 13th in win probability added (1.27) among AL batters with at least 170 plate appearances. He has also stolen seven bases — four more than he stole in all of 2016.
Only Miguel Sano, Yonder Alonso, Aaron Judge and Mike Trout rank ahead of Aaron Hicks in wOBA (measures a player’s overall offensive contributions per plate appearance). All four players may very well earn a trip while Hicks is currently left out.
It’s time to take this red-hot start to 2017 by Hicks serious, as he deserves credit for helping lift the Yankees’ outfield to one of the best in baseball. More importantly, doing a majority of the lifting with limited playing time or filling in for an injury.