Saturday, February 20, 2016


If you believe what you read in the press today, you would think that the Yankees have had a disastrous winter. While I don't think they did enough to improve the team, I think Aaron Hicks may go down as one of the biggest impact position players of the 2016 season. Honestly, I didn't think much of him when he was first acquired. What's there to be impressed about a career .225 hitter who ahs yet to appear in 100 games or 400 plate appearances in a single season. Granted he's only 26 years old, but if he was the kind of outfielder that I thought we really needed, I would've expected more production and more time out and field.

Here's the thing, though. His production hitting against left-handed pitchers is far better than hitting against right-handed pitchers. In fact, his batting average hitting righty is more than 70 points higher than hitting left. Check out the slash line from 2015 on him against left-handed pitching: .307/.375/.495. His OPS is .870. That's more than 200 points more than against the other side. In fact, he has more than twice as many appearances against right-handed pitchers than against left-handed pitchers, yet more than half of his home runs came as a righty. That's saying something.

Carlos Beltran - the other right fielder - has the exact opposite effect. He is far better against right-handed pitchers, with a batting average 30 points higher from the left side. His OPS s .831 and 14 of his 19 home runs were hit left-handed. All of this sets up some very interesting platoon scenarios. Consider this. Carlos Beltran hit .276 overall last season. Facing only right-handed pitchers takes his average up about 10 points. Aaron Hicks' right-handed average is about 30 points over Beltran's season average. That means that the right fielder's spot int eh batting order gets an upgrade of somewhere between 10 and 30 points. I know, it's not an exact science, but the prospects look good.

Then there's the defense. Carlos Beltran is a 3-time Gold Glove winner, but he is 8 years removed from his last one. If you watched him field last year, you were probably not impressed. While he still has good hands, his range just isn't there anymore. Neither is his arm. Hicks, on the other hand, is great in the field. A natural center fielder, he has an above-average arm and range. He had a tremendous fielding season where he committed only one error in 849 innings across all three outfield positions. He might have won a Gold Glove if he met the minimum innings requirement (he was 48 short by Game 137). I am sure there are Gold Gloves in his future.

Finally, this is good timing for the Yankees and Carlos Beltran. He will turn 39 in a couple of months, which means he shouldn't be running around in the field as much anymore anyway. Platooning him reduces the risk of his getting injured. More importantly, he is in the last year of his contract. The Yankees should be thinking about setting up the future. The 26-year old Hicks, who is not eligible for free agency until 2020, fits the plan perfectly.

One last thing. I tend to like baseball oddities, and Hicks in the outfield gives Yankee fans a good answer to two trivia questions. First, when is the last time the Yankees fielded an outfield consisting of three natural center fielders? Second, when was the last time the Yankees (or any team, for that matter) implemented a platoon with two switch hitters?

--Ike Dimitriadis, 
BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon

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