2 New York Yankees Who Will Not Be Better in 2023
Aaron Hicks, OF
All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope that the shift ban changes everything, because no matter what Brian Cashman's currently selling you, there's no reason to believe Hicks will suddenly revert back to being the old reliable player the Yankees have been missing after earning the left field job.
The main reason why? He's never really been reliable!
Hicks' 2018 season was everything the Yankees believed in when they acquired him from Minnesota and tried to breathe life into the former top prospect. He always had a cannon for an arm, but added the power-speed package that year, hitting 27 bombs, walking 90 times, and OPSing .833. The next year, with the juiced ball, things were going well again for Hicks before he hurt his elbow, returned to drill a postseason home run off Justin Verlander, then had UCL surgery, which sapped his arm strength (among other things).
Add in a busted wrist sheath from early in the 2021 season, and Hicks may have experienced one malady too many. He didn't do much of anything right in 2022. He didn't hit the ball hard (31st percentile in average exit velocity, 14th in hard hit percentage). He didn't limit strikeouts (31st percentile in K%, 41st in whiff rate). He didn't slug (10th percentile). He didn't get good jumps on the ball (48th percentile). He did dominate Staring at Rolling Fair Balls Down the Left Field Line, though (100th percentile, only guy who did it).
Add in a cursory few bloop hits through holes created by the Shift Ban, and that's all well and good. It doesn't seem like Hicks has the foundation to return to his 2018 levels any more, though, after numerous surgeries. Hoping for the best, but expecting the 31st percentile.