Yankees should bat Aaron Hicks in the leadoff spot

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 1: Aaron Hicks
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 1: Aaron Hicks /

Moving Yankees center fielder, Aaron Hicks, to the leadoff spot should be the next impact move manager Aaron Boone makes to get the very best production out of the Bombers’ prolific lineup.

Brett Gardner is not getting it done for the Yankees. Hitting in front of Aaron Judge should make a good hitter that much better, as pitchers are forced to throw more strikes to keep the bases empty before Judge comes to the plate. However, it’s not working.

Gardner’s numbers have been very disappointing thus far this season with his .230 batting average and an OPS of just .657. His stats vs. right-handed pitchers are even more dismal.

Throw in the fact that Gardner’s power has all but disappeared and that he only has two stolen bases on the year while being picked off twice, and you’ll understand that a good OBP (.358) will only go so far.

Aaron Hicks, on the other hand, is a switch-hitter, giving manager Aaron Boone much more flexibility vs. left-handed pitchers. He is currently hitting .256 but has a .836 OPS (.400 OBP for those that will compare his to Gardner’s).

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He’s hitting .276 with two homers, five RBI and an OPS of .919 from the left-side of the plate.

This is excellent news for the Yankees, as Hicks was always considered a lesser stick from the right. However, in 2017, Hicks looked like an entirely different hitter facing southpaws, hitting .312 with five home runs, 18 RBI and an OPS of .903.

So for those that doubt Hicks’ small sample size this season, last season can act as a precursor.

Overall, in 2017, Aaron Hicks hit .266 with 15 home runs, 52 RBI and boasted an OPS of .847 in just 301 at-bats (88 games played). Even those stats in an injury-riddled year outpaced Gardner who managed a .264 average with career-high 21 homers, 63 RBI and an OPS of .778 in 594 at-bats.

Let’s face it, Brett Gardner, who turns 35 this season, has reduced bat speed, power and is not the threat to steal a base like he once was. His best years are behind him — and understandably so.

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Aaron Hicks, who is just 28-years-old, if healthy, definitely has his best years ahead of him and I can easily fathom a couple of those season’s as the leadoff hitter of the Yankees’ most prolific lineup since the  “Murderers Row” teams of the 1920’s.