The New York Yankees attempted a bold strategy entering the 2022 season of barely insuring against a potential Aaron Hicks injury issue, handing their erstwhile center fielder the starting job after he registered just 32 games played this past season.
The culprit this time? Wrist surgery, following a 2019 campaign interrupted by an elbow issue that eventually led to full-blown Tommy John.
Hicks at his best (in 2018-19) was a power/speed throwback threat, and he abused the short porch with regularity during his extended breakout. Most of the zap was gone last season, though, even before the compounding of injuries, and fans would likely agree that “competence” is probably their highest expectation for the 32-year-old out of the gate.
Ask Hicks, though, and you’ll get an entirely different story.
According to the center fielder — who’s currently feeling tip-top — his goal is a 30-30 season, the likes of which he’s never approached before.
Holding off Ender Inciarte for the starting gig? Totally reasonable. Obliterating your career highs…? It would be nice … but …
Yankees CF Aaron Hicks wants to go 30-30 in 2022 comeback season
So, Hicks wants to go Rickey Henderson, huh? The Yankees haven’t seen a power/speed threat like this since Alfonso Soriano back in 2003, and if someone could provide this exact type of spark, they wouldn’t refuse.
Hicks’ actual quote is no guarantee, but it did prove he’s still eyeing a best-case scenario.
"“There is something special about 30-30,” Hicks said. “For me, I want to steal more, and I feel like 30 home runs are reachable for me. Those two together are a dangerous pair. That’s definitely something I would like to do.”"
His confidence is admirable, but his previous career-highs of 27 home runs in 2018 (second place was 15) and 13 stolen bases in 2015 (in Minnesota, not with the Bombers) don’t exactly indicate he’s on the verge of a 30-30 breakthrough.
Hicks using his legs more could be a huge factor in New York’s 2022 projections, and we’d welcome even 15 steals. But even if the 32-year-old hits his “games played” goal, it’s going to take six best-case scenarios stapled on top of each other to approach this milestone.
For those interested in a shred of Hicks-related optimism, his 2021 season appeared to be turning a corner just before it was derailed by the injury that required season-ending surgery.
If you want to take a depressing trip through time, this Max Goodman tweet in which he extolls the virtues of Hicks’ stretch days before his wrist issue popped up (May 12 was his final game of ’21) should do the trick.
Take this advice, Hicksy: put “30-30” on your dream corkboard, but don’t be disappointed if you miss the mark.
Redouble your efforts on stolen bases and pulling the ball, though, and great things might happen — even if they’re not quite this great.