Yankees: What to expect from Aaron Hicks in 2018

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Aaron Hicks
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Aaron Hicks /

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks experienced somewhat of a breakout season in 2017. It was a career year despite a disappointing end.

In the first half of the 2017 season, Aaron Hicks was stellar for the Yankees. He slashed .290/.398/.515 with 10 home runs, 37 RBI and a .318 BABIP. These numbers heavily deviated from the .232/.315/.372 slash line that Hicks was used to producing.

One contributing factor to this success was a revised approach at the plate that produced a career-best 14.1 percent walk rate. Additionally, Hicks saw 4.11 pitches per plate appearance, his most since 2014. This patience resulted in more hitter-friendly counts, as he saw a career-best 50 counts that went 3-1.

Then, almost consecutive oblique injuries hit — and Hicks was back to putting up stats that closely reflected his career averages.

Hicks finished the second half hitting just .218, driving in only 15 runs and posting a .319 OBP. He was, however, integral in getting past the Indians in the Postseason, but struggled mightily against the World Series Champion Astros.

Overall, Hicks still finished with a .266/.372/.475 clip. Respectable numbers indeed, but less than what he is capable of.

The question is, which Hicks will we see this season? The one who has struggled his first two years in pinstripes, or the one who has been rejuvenated and is a potential breakout star?

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If you have not seen him already this offseason, Hicks is looking jacked. Assuming he stays healthy, there is no reason that Hicks cannot break 20 home runs in 2018. Likely to be slotted towards the bottom of the lineup, Hicks will see great pitches to hit.

Having to go through the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius before getting to him — Hicks is the least of opposing pitcher’s concerns. Due to lack of respect, Hicks will get more fastball counts than he would have at the top of the lineup.

Given the players that will hit above him, you can also expect a spike in RBI. Hicks has the potential to drive in over 70 runs if he takes advantage of the ample opportunities that will be given.

In playing just over half of a season in ’17, he drove in 52 — so Hicks is more than capable of 70 or more RBI.

Keeping this newfound approach at the plate, expect Hicks to draw more walks and have an on-base percentage in the high .300s. He will be the table setter at the bottom of the order that Brett Gardner and Judge can drive in.

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If Hicks can stay healthy, he is poised to have an official breakout season. He showed what was in store in the first half of ’17, but ailing injuries were the leading cause of his late campaign frustrations.

If Hicks continues to make trips to the disabled list, then we will see much of the same old disappointment. However, he does have the potential to be the unsung hero of this Yankees’ team.