Extremely reactionary Yankees take alert!
But hey, that’s what April is for, right?
…Wait, what? It’s now May? In that case, Aaron Hicks really needs to get a handle on this whole “hitting like a pitcher from the left side” thing.
Stuck with an extremely uncharacteristic walk rate and a chase rate that defies his typically-fantastic eye, Hicks is beyond due for a change. But should that change be a fundamental one?
Entering play Sunday, the 31-year-old Hicks is hitting a weak .161/.253/.322 (67 wRC+), and that wRC+ dips to just 20 from the left side,
Over the past three years, Hicks actually displayed the reverse platoon splits, performing more powerfully from the left side of the plate against righties (helpful, seeing as facing right-handers is the more common fate for a hitter).
It’s only been a month. We understand. But is there a chance that Hicks’ Tommy John surgery following the 2019 season somehow threw his left-handed swing out of whack?
Plus, when Gary Sanchez is out-walking the Master of Walks by a lot, it’s time to reevaluate every ingredient that went into creating this Hicks season.
Should Yankees OF Aaron Hicks try hitting righty against right-handed pitchers?
We’re not advocating for a wild long-term change for Hicks, abandoning everything he’s worked for over the past decade. But if his left-handed swing is this out of sorts, and if his left-handed production is going to be below-pitcher level, it might be time to try to shake up his stat line with one experimental game from the right side.
Everything about Hicks’ season is both worrisome and fundamentally different from what he usually produces. His chase rate is poor, his pop-up rate is escalated, he’s not taking walks, and he’s not reaching base. Sanchez’s struggles are at least contextualized; Hicks looks nothing like himself, and he has four more years after this one under contract with the Yankees before the Bombers have the chance to lock in a team option.
Unfortunately, Hicks’ struggles have spilled into every area of his game. He’s appeared a step slow in the field several times this season. His arm has regressed (as expected) in the wake of his surgery. In every facet of the game, he seems to be far from the player who once saved a game in Minnesota with a headlong dive on a Max Kepler liner.
There has to be a solution here, and perhaps it comes from (temporarily) focusing on the side of the plate he’s thriving at.