Aaron Hicks has already gotten off to a fast start as this season gets underway, and now the Yankees are left with a rather odd predicament. While many, prior to this season, were clamoring for DJ to be out of the leadoff spot, there’s a case to be made that he’s been the team’s best bat.
Therefore, he should bat leadoff if he’s getting hits, or of course, bat either fifth or sixth, where his situational hitting can shine. Hicks has found his spot, and that is the leadoff spot. His ability to see pitches, work counts, and simply put the ball in play has been great for the Yankees to start this season.
At the beginning of the season, Hicks spoke with reporter Bryan Hoch, and stated his lofty ambitions for this year. “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.”
If Hicks is able to put together a 30-30 season, nay a 20-20 season, the Yankees couldn’t possibly ask more from him. While it is easy to gripe on players that struggle in big moments, the hate for Hicks seems to run deeper than it should.
For starters, many fans are outraged over the state of the game due to the un-juiced baseballs. That change has led to a rather abysmal MLB average triple slash and a historically low power-driven start to the year. Below is a chart comparing Hicks’ stats this season and the MLB average (prior to Monday’s games):
Hicks doesn’t need to swing for the fences, and he should be encouraged not to be that style of player. What every Yankees fan, like myself, had wanted Hicks to do, was be a guy that gets on base. There’s never going to be a doubt about his ability to work counts and show his elite plate discipline, and if he’s able to consistently get hits to go with that, that will be a huge weapon for the team going forward.
Hicks’ 124 wRC+ is fourth on the squad to start this year, and that is thanks in-part to his 16.0% BB Rate and his focus on simply making contact with the ball. The year is young, and there’s much more to be seen, but if Hicks can keep playing like this, then he may have another 4.0 fWAR season coming his way.