Ex-Yankees outfield bust has dominant playoff performance for AL East Rival

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Apr 4, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks (31) reacts after grounding into an out during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are likely scratching their head at the fact that former outfield bust Aaron Hicks has had a dominant season with the Baltimore Orioles and was truly electric in their game two loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday night.

Hicks’ Remarkable Turnaround in Baltimore

Aaron Hicks inked a seven-year, $70 million deal with the New York Yankees back in 2019, set to expire in 2025. At the outset of the season, Hicks struggled to find his form with New York. However, his recent performance with the Baltimore Orioles has left many scratching their heads.

Yankees Commitment and Surprising Transformation

The Yankees committed to paying Hicks $10 million for the next three seasons. His early-season struggles with the Bombers were evident, as he managed a meager .188 batting average, a .263 on-base percentage (OBP), and a .261 slugging rate in 28 games, including just one home run, five RBIs, a 26.3% strikeout rate, a 9.2% walk rate, and a 49 wRC+.

In contrast, his time with the Baltimore Orioles saw a remarkable transformation. Over 65 games, Hicks posted impressive stats, hitting .275 with a .381 OBP, a .425 slugging rate, seven home runs, 31 RBIs, a 20.8% strikeout rate, a 14.8% walk rate, and a 129 wRC+. It’s safe to say he became an entirely different player in Baltimore, emerging as one of their standout performers in the postseason.

Hicks’ Impact in the ALDS

In the first game of the ALDS, Hicks drew two walks in four at-bats, showcasing his patience at the plate. However, his real impact came in game two against the Texas Rangers. In the bottom of the first inning, Hicks delivered a crucial single to right field, driving in two runs. Later in the game, he launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, narrowing the Orioles’ deficit. With a batting average of .286 and an impressive .444 OBP in the playoffs, Hicks has undoubtedly been the Orioles’ standout player.

Contract Challenges

The New York Yankees have grappled with several unfavorable contracts in recent years, a noteworthy point for their offseason evaluations. General manager Brian Cashman faces the challenge of making better decisions moving forward, learning from past mistakes.

Hicks’ Journey: From Lack of Confidence to Success

Aaron Hicks’ resurgence in Baltimore is a stark contrast to his time with New York, where a lack of confidence and public criticism of manager Aaron Boone led to his release. Despite this, the Yankees continue to honor his contract while he excels with an AL East rival, the Orioles.

As the Orioles face a tough battle against the Texas Rangers in the series, Aaron Hicks has unquestionably risen to the occasion, a stark departure from his performance with the Yankees in recent years.

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