3 unexpected players who will be key to Yankees’ playoff success

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We know the big guns who will be huge for the Yankees, but what about the under-the-radar guys?

The New York Yankees are in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and they still have room to improve their seeding. Right now, they’re in the No. 5 spot, which means they’d travel to Minnesota to face the Twins, but that’d only be the beginning.

The AL will be a gauntlet, especially with the expanded 16-team playoff field, so the Yankees will need all hands on deck. This is nothing new after what we witnessed while falling short from 2017-2019, but 2020 stresses that sentiment even more.

Yup, we know guys like DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, Luke Voit and Masahiro Tanaka can’t disappear, but what about a few less talked about players who could help lift the team in tight situations?

If the Yankees really want to best all of the top competition en route to a World Series victory in 2020, they’ll need these three guys to do their jobs based on what we’ve seen from them this year.

Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

3. Aaron Hicks

The Yankees will need Aaron Hicks to keep battling in his at-bats.

Aaron Hicks has had a quiet season, but for a good while he led the team in on-base percentage. He’s having an unspectacular campaign at the plate in terms of batting average (.215), home runs (5) and RBI (14), but the Yankees will need him to work the count like he’s been, which has contributed to a .379 OBP.

He’s got 38 walks in 144 at-bats, good for a 26% rate! We’d love to see more hits and especially more power out of the switch-hitting veteran, but if that’s not possible, he needs to remain on this trajectory. He’s seeing 4.3 pitches per plate appearance and has the lowest strikeout rate of his career.

Hicks, at this point, can be dubbed an “unexpected” contributor because his tough plate appearances and battles with pitchers will prove to be a lot more valuable in the postseason against superior arms.

Additionally, the slugger hasn’t really moved the needle for the Yankees in his playoff appearances. Across 21 career games, he’s slashing just .191/.286/.324 with seven runs scored, two home runs and nine RBI. He can make fans forget about that weak track record by continuing to get on base to give his teammates a chance to bring him home.