In a twist few could have predicted, former New York Yankees players Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks are headed to the playoffs while their ex-team watches from the sidelines. Imagining Donaldson and Hicks in postseason play without their pinstripes would have seemed far-fetched at the start of the season.
Donaldson’s New Home in Milwaukee
The Yankees chose to part ways with Donaldson to clear space for emerging prospects. Now with the Milwaukee Brewers, the 37-year-old infielder has played 13 games, boasting a .191 average, a .296 OBP, three homers, 10 RBIs, and a wRC+ of 99. While these statistics may not scream ‘star player,’ they mark an improvement from his performance with the Yankees, where he underperformed by 26% compared to the average hitter over 34 games.
Beyond the numbers, Donaldson’s value to the Brewers lies in his defensive abilities at third base and his knack for hitting homers. While the Brewers might wish for more options at third base, their playoff hopes partially rest on Donaldson’s shoulders. Undoubtedly, he’s found a more favorable situation in Milwaukee than he had with the Yankees.
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Hicks’ Resurgence in Baltimore
After a dismal stint with the Yankees, the team released 33-year-old outfielder Aaron Hicks. His stats with the Yankees were underwhelming, with a .188 average, .263 OBP, one homer, five RBIs, a 26.3% strikeout rate, a 9.2% walk rate, and a wRC+ of just 49 over 28 games.
However, since joining the Baltimore Orioles, Hicks has reinvented himself. Over 63 games, he’s recorded a .284 average, a .391 OBP, and a .438 slugging rate, along with improved rates in strikeouts (20.4%) and walks (15.2%). His wRC+ of 135 with the Orioles marks a career-high. This turnaround, over 230 plate appearances, underscores his newfound consistency.
Hicks’ transformation might be attributed to various factors: a change in environment, reduced media pressure, or perhaps escaping the relentless scrutiny of the Bronx. While some have attributed his past struggles to injuries, it appears that mental factors and media pressure played significant roles in his earlier struggles.
The Yankees’ Cost of Missed Opportunities
The Yankees’ history is no stranger to players flourishing post-departure. To add salt to the wound, general manager Brian Cashman is on the hook to pay Hicks $10 million annually until 2026, when he was slated to become a free agent. The 2023 season has exemplified the team’s challenges, from injuries to lackluster performances from high-earning players. To re-establish their championship pedigree, the Bombers must be cautious with investments, ensuring they yield positive returns.