It was recently reported that the Yankees are going to award the starting right fielders job to Aaron Hicks and send Aaron Judge to Scranton. That seems hard to believe. And there does not appear to be any real reasons for the decision. So, here are are some unreal reasons to support this unreal claim.
Yankees spring training started with a plethora of story lines. Highly ranked rookies and young veterans came to camp with hopes of earning a job on the big club. And that included Aarons of all sizes—from Hicks to Judge. But after a couple of weeks, when the initial rush of excitement is over, stories can be hard to come by.
That is when rumors and innuendos become hot tips and back page news. And that is what happened last week. Someone in a hall somewhere mused openly that it was possible Aaron Hicks would win the battle with Aaron Judge.
That speculation was seized on by some enthusiastic garrulous employee of the Yankees and repeated in the hushed tones of a hot tip to a bored and anxious scrivener. Et voila! A story that makes no sense is taken as true.
There is no valid reason for Hicks to win out over Judge. It’s not because Hicks has more upside than Judge; the opposite is true. And Judge is three years younger. Hicks was drafted higher in the first round (2008–14th) than Judge (2013–32nd) but he neither outplayed Judge in the minors nor distinguished himself in his MLB career.
For instance, they both played in the minors in their ages 22-24 seasons, in part or full. Hicks at 22 did an excellent job at Double-A, slashing .286/.384/.460. And of his 135 hits, 13 were home runs. Judge spent his 22nd year on Earth splitting time between high and low A ball and hit .308/.419/.486. But of his 144 hits, 17 left the yard.
A Powerful Reason
It is impossible, however, to directly compare their next two seasons because both players spent time at multiple levels, including with their respective MLB clubs. But, while there is a healthy debate to be had based on their minor league slash lines, there is no comparison of power numbers.
And that is what ultimately separates these two: the power. Hicks hit a total of 14 home runs and collected 79 RBI’s during his age 23 and 24 seasons. Judge, during his same age seasons, hit 43 homers and 147 RBI’s.
Apparently, Hicks has not won the Battle of the Promising Prospects. But some observers might note that Hicks had far better numbers last year than Judge; that is true. But last year was not Hicks pro debut, and that is where the comparison lies.
Judge hit .179/.263/.345 in his 27 game tryout last year. Ouch. Even with four home runs and 10 RBI’s, nothing can make that line look good and striking out in 42 of 84 at-bats only makes it worse.
Hicks was probably better in his debut back in 2013, but not much. His average was higher but the rest of his slash was a bit worse: .192/.259/.338. But his power was once again the difference. Even though he had 3.5 times as many AB’s, he only hit 8 homers and picked up a paltry 27 RBI’s. He also struck out in a third of his AB’s, which is a lot better than The Judge but is still nothing to write home about.
Yankees Should Not be Puzzled
Between the two Yankees players, Judge has a lot more value and potential. He already beats Hicks in any power profile. The other piece to the puzzle is that Hicks has had more chances to prove himself in the MLB and has proved himself mediocre.
He played in 69 games in 2014, and the results were only slightly better, hitting .215/.341/.274 with one home run. And while he improved again during his 97-game stint the following year–.256/.323/.398 and 11 homers—that production from a third-year pro is, as Padma Lakshmi once famously said, pedestrian at best.
And, as we all know, the Yankees gave him his biggest chance last year by letting him have 361 plate appearances. He responded by regressing. He finished with a .217/.281/.336 slash line and a home run total of 8. I don’t need to see any more of Judge to know he deserves a chance over Hicks.
But, if I did, I can compare their spring training numbers as of today. Based on all these factors, the only way Hicks should be able to win the job is if he puts up Greg Bird’s numbers while Judge puts up Jorge Mateo’s. Judge has 11 hits, is batting .275, and has an OBP of .356. Hicks stands at 9 hits with a .265 average and an OBP of .359.
Add to all of this Hal Steinbrenner’s pronouncement in the off-season and Aaron Judge is holding all the cards.
"“My expectations are he’s going to be my starting right fielder this year. That’s a big deal and a big opportunity. I know he’s going to make the most of it.”"
To sum it up, Aaron Judge has more of an upside, hits for a lot more power, is younger with more time under team control, is the desired candidate of the owner and is having a better spring.
So, yes, Hicks is winning the job at this point. Sure. That is not to say that Judge cannot go in the tank and Hicks takes off. If Judge finished hitting 150 points lower than Hicks, things might change. But not as they stand now.
This article so far has been for those who believe in facts and reasoning. The rest is for those who think that the Yankees, right now, will give Aaron Hicks the starting right fielders job. Since you will believe any made-up stories you read, I have made up some reasons Hicks is winning this competition.
With no further ado, here are The Top Five Reasons Aaron Hicks Will Win The Yankees Right Fielders Job Over Aaron Judge.