The New York Yankees have been rotating their outfield to start the 2023 season, getting most of their players reps and opportunities. Even newly acquired lefty Franchy Cordero has played in several games, making several impact plays despite having a poor historical MLB experience. However, he’s earned more opportunities while the Yankees wait for Harrison Bader to return and fill another outfield spot.
However, plenty of criticism has revolved around Aaron Hicks, justifiably so. Hicks, 33, has started his 2023 season on a down note, experiencing only eight plate appearances but failing to post a hit and getting on base at just a .125 rate. He has a 37.5% strikeout rate this season, and while the sample size is ridiculously small, his -61 wRC+ is certainly nothing to write home about.
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The Yankees are starting to reduce Aaron Hicks’ role:
The Yankees have begun to shy away from utilizing him on an everyday basis, even getting Isiah Kiner-Falefa opportunities over the veteran outfielder. IKF had never played an inning at any of the three outfield spots before this season, so it tells the Yankees have been willing to give him chances over a far more proven player.
Recently, Hicks spoke to the media to voice his displeasure and desire to play daily, which manager Aaron Boone reciprocated, but he failed to make an offensive impact. He followed up those comments with a more media-friendly approach, indicating he is 100% responsible and understands why fans are booing him at this point.
“I understand it 100 percent,’’ Hicks said regarding the boo-birds. “Right now, I’m focusing on myself and trying to get off to a hot start and just play baseball and have fun.”Via the New York Post.
Fans don’t have anything against Hicks. They simply want him to be a productive player on a World Series-caliber team. Ultimately, he’s been nothing but a liability, so unless that narrative changes, there is no chance fans are going to ease up on the hostility, but it is essential to know that he is a human being and isn’t deserving of personal threats.
“It comes with it,’’ Hicks said. “You’ve got to produce. If you’re not producing, you get those kinds of results [from the crowd]. I’m just worried about producing and getting hits, playing really good defense and everything else will take care of itself. I know I can get back to where I want to be.”
Playing in New York comes with the possibility of hostile environments, especially if you’re being paid a substantial sum of money and not living up to it. Hicks is earning $10.5 million for the 2023 season and still has three years left on his contract, so the Yankees find themselves in a bit of a bind. They could DFA Aaron and look to offload him via trade this year, but the best-case scenario would be elevating his offensive stats and providing adequate depth behind Oswaldo Cabrera and Bader in centerfield.
However, I wouldn’t ignore IKF’s solid start defensive start in the outfield, especially if he continues to make contact and puts the ball in play. The Yankees are still trying to iron out their roster and define reliable contributors, but Hicks hasn’t provided much value over the first six games of the regular season.