New York Yankees: Aaron Hicks over Cameron Maybin?

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks
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The official 2019 New York Yankees ALCS roster has been released. There is still a lingering question that remains in the minds of many: should Aaron Hicks start over Cameron Maybin?

Hicks or Maybin?

To begin, let’s talk about both players and career stats. In 2496 plate appearances, Hicks slashed .236/.328/.401/.729 with a .318 wOBA and a 99 wRC+. In 4117 plate appearances, Maybin slashed .256/.324/.376/.701 with a .309 wOBA and a 94 wRC+. There is a massive difference in plate appearances, but overall Hicks is a better hitter.

Now let’s talk about their 2019 regular season stats. In 255 plate appearances, Hicks slashed .235/.325/.443/.769 with a .325 wOBA and a 102 wRC+. In 269 plate appearances, Maybin slashed .285/.364/.494/.858 with a .362 wOBA and a 127 wRC+. This case is more accurate as Maybin only had 14 more plate appearances than Hicks. However, Maybin was a better hitter this season.

Defensive stats also deserve to be recognized. In 5251.1 innings, Hicks has a 15 DRS, .912 RZR, 19.6 UZR, and a 4.9 UZR/150. In 8552.1 innings, Maybin has a 1 DRS, .907 RZR, 6.2 UZR, and a 1.0 UZR/150. It’s blatantly obvious that Hicks has been the better defender, regardless of the massive difference in innings played.

Just as I did earlier, let’s dive into 2019 regular season numbers. In 499.1 innings, Hicks had a -1 DRS, .893 RZR, 0.6 UZR, and a 0.8 UZR/150. In 588.1 innings, Maybin had a 0 DRS, .879 RZR, -0.2 UZR and a -0.2 UZR/150. In this case, Hicks was still the better defender this season.

When comparing career numbers, Hicks is the better hitter and defender. When comparing numbers from the 2019 regular season, Maybin was the better hitter, but Hicks was the better defender.

Taking an analytical approach, this argument is clearly in Hicks’ favor, but does that mean he deserves to start over Maybin? Not necessarily.

Hicks has been recovering from an elbow injury and hasn’t played since Aug. 3. While Edwin Encarnacion was able to make an immediate impact in the postseason after coming off an oblique injury, to expect Hicks to do the same is pushing the boundaries. Then again, Didi Gregorius was able to snap out of his slump and is slashing .400/.500/.700/1.200 with a .494 wOBA and a 216 wRC+ in the postseason.

There is also the concern that Hicks will be thrust into the batter’s box, expected to figure out his timing immediately against elite pitching in the Houston Astros. Then again, Encarnacion made a significant impact on his first game back and Gregorius was a force to be reckoned with during games 2 and 3. It’s definitely a gamble that could go either way.

However, playing Maybin over Hicks might be the safest option. Maybin can still be used off the bench for speed, as he stole 9 bases, recorded a 0.7 BsR and was in the 87th percentile range for speed in the 2019 regular season. He also has stolen 2 bases this postseason and hasn’t been caught stealing. Maybin also proved to be an above-average hitter in the 2019 regular season.

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