Will the Yankees bench Aaron Hicks come the playoffs?

Alexander Wilson
aaron hicks, new york yankees
Jul 8, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks (31) reacts after scoring against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees didn’t trade Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals for no reason. Acquiring Harrison Bader was meant to increase the defensive production in centerfield while adding a more competent hitter over Aaron Hicks.

Hicks has been wildly inconsistent this season, hitting .222 with a 34.6% on-base rate and .313 slugging. While he’s getting on base at a decent clip, hosting a 15.2% walk rate and 21.1% strikeout rate, he’s lost all sense of power, recording just six homers.

Hicks features a 33.9% hard-hit rate and 4.9% barrel rate, two of the lowest numbers in his entire career. His 40.1% flyball ratio has not translated to homers, earning a 6.7% HR/FB ratio with a 45.5% pull rate.

To start August, Hicks is batting .129 with a 25% on-base rate, including four hits and six strikeouts over 31 at-bats. He was far more proficient in July, hitting .275 with a 41% on base rate. However, the Yankees simply can’t rely on him if he’s going to be polarizing with his production.

The Yankees will likely use Harrison Bader as the starter in CF:

With that being said, Harrison Bader is likely to replace him in centerfield once he returns from plantar fasciitis. The 28-year-old has earned a .256 BA with a 30% on base rate this season over 72 games. He’s only smacked five homers with 21 RBIs, but he’s contributed 15 stolen bases.

Last season, Bader tallied 16 homers and 50 RBIs with a 6.7% walk rate. If he can provide a bit of power in the Yankees lineup and extrapolate on his blazing speed, he could be a difference maker come the postseason.

Defensively, Bader hosts a perfect fielding percentage in centerfield this season over 588.2 innings. His -2 total defensive runs saved above average is below his career average. Last season, he earned 15 defensive runs saved above average, showcasing his quality in the outfield. After he was acquired, general manager Brian Cashman indicated that he’s one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, which played a significant part in his acquisition.

The Yankees are still waiting patiently for Bader to make a return with his foot still in a walking boot. The team is optimistic he will be back in mid-September, perfect timing to get him some reps before the playoffs start.

In addition to Bader, the Yankees also acquired Andrew Benintendi to take over in left field. With Judge also cemented in right field, Hicks will end up transitioning to the bench, where he will feature as a DH or second team reserve option in case any injuries arise.