When discussing the best outfielders in Major League Baseball, one name is notoriously omitted almost every time. The New York Yankees know what Aaron Hicks is worth every time he takes the field and impacts the game with a crucial walk, a home run, a throw, or a great catch at center field.
MLB.com published their All-Underrated team, filled with underappreciated players that get little to no recognition when their games warrant more attention. Perhaps you could include Yankees players like Luke Voit prior to his 2020 explosion, or even Gio Urshela.
However, among the Yankees’ stars that take the field day in and day out, Hicks seems like one of the most undervalued. Even a portion of the Yankees’ fanbase doesn’t think that he is a good ballplayer.
Hicks’ .225 batting average seems low, but thankfully, we have better, modern statistics to better measure offensive performance. His .379 OBP is indicative of his skills getting on base, and his .351 wOBA and 123 wRC+ suggest that he is, quite clearly, an above-average hitter.
MLB loves Hicks
Here is what MLB.com wrote about him: “Hicks was far from the flashiest addition by the Yankees in recent years, but heâ€™s been among the best. In the past four seasons, Hicks’ .824 OPS as a center fielder is the fourth-best among those with at least 900 plate appearances at the position in that span, behind only Mike Trout (1.091), Charlie Blackmon (.931) and George Springer (.877).”
They also wrote that “Hicks missed much of 2019 because of Tommy John surgery, but he rebounded well in ’20, with a 123 wRC+ due primarily to his discerning eye (his outside-the-zone swing rate of 14.6 percent was second-best in the bigs). As he ventures into his age-31 season, it could be that Hicksâ€™ declining defensive metrics and power numbers catch up to him. But for now, at another position short on stars, he fits the underrated bill.”
The Yankees’ center fielder is once again set to hit in an amazing lineup and contribute his elite on-base skills in 2021.
You can see the rest of the team here.