New York Yankeesâ€™ center fielder Aaron Hicks finished his stint with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican League (LIDOM), after completing the 50 plate appearances he was initially assigned by the Bombers.
In a strong pitching league (the average league OPS is around .640), Hicks held his own considering that he hadnâ€™t played competitive baseball since injuring his wrist in May. Overall, he was third in the team among players with at least 40 plate appearances with a .729 OPS.
The Yankeesâ€™ outfielder hit one home run and slashed .265/.321/.408, with nine RBI, four doubles, and five runs scored. He took four walks and struck out 10 times. He also stole two bases.
More than the stats themselves, the most important takeaway for the Yankees is that Hicks made it through his winter experience healthy and in one piece. The 2022 campaign is a big one for him, as he will try to prove that he can still be the Bombersâ€™ starting center fielder. New York may or may not bring a capable outfielder to compete with him this offseason when the lockout ends.
The Yankees need him to find his 2018 form
Hicks peaked in 2018, when he slashed .248/.366/.467 with 27 home runs, 90 runs scored, 79 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. That year, he had a very solid 129 wRC+ and 5.0 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
He was limited to 59 games with the Yankees in 2019 because he needed Tommy John surgery, and his offensive performance collapsed all the way to a 103 wRC+. He returned to a 124 wRC+ in 2020, but his power was affected: he had a .189 ISO, his lowest mark since 2017.
He slumped badly in 32 games this year, with a .194/.294/.333 line and a 76 wRC+, and then injured his wrist: he suffered a torn left tendon sheath, forcing him to get surgery and miss the remainder of the season.
The Yankees wanted to see where he was at after missing such a high amount of games, and thatâ€™s why they sent him to the Dominican Republic, the most competitive Caribbean league. But he will need to have a strong spring training to dissipate any doubts about his future with the team.