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Aaron Hicks is Quietly Becoming a Star in the Bronx

Aaron Hicks is Quietly Becoming a Star in the Bronx

For the beginning months of the 2017 season, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is stealing all of the Bronx headlines. With 26 home runs and a massive build, he’s hard to ignore. Diagonally across from Judge, another Aaron is quietly budding into a superstar. Manning left field, Aaron Hicks is finally living up to the hype in 2017.

Draft/Twins Days

Hicks was drafted 14th overall by the Twins in 2008. By 2011, he had already gained traction on top prospect charts. ranked him the game’s fourth best outfielder, just behind Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. He’s described as “A five-tool table setter that can do it all.” Hicks finally reached Minnesota in 2013 and managed only a .192 average in 81 games (half a season). After the 2015 season, the Twins had enough of their long-heralded prospect.

Trade to the Yankees

In November of that year, during the annual GM meetings in Florida, the Yankees and Twins made a minor trade to bring Hicks to New York. In return, the Yankees gave up fan-favorite John Ryan Murphy, their backup catcher. Along with providing a righty alternative during Brian McCann’s off days, Murphy was beloved by Yankees fans- he’s probably most remembered for this legendary one-liner. Like the Didi Gregorius trade a year earlier, the Yankees saw immense upside and a cheap reclamation prospect in Hicks.

2016 Struggles

Upon arriving to the Bronx, Hicks showed off his great maturity by putting in work all off-season and winning the starting left fielder job. However, the results simply were not there. Playing in 75 first-half games, Hicks’ average dipped below .200. Many a Yankee fan grew to lament seeing Hicks at the dish with men on. He was just 15 for 92 with men on base in 2016. However, he rebounded to finish off the 2016 season relatively strong. In August, Hicks showed his potential upside by batting .280 and hitting four home runs as Judge pushed him out of the starting lineup.

Finding his Home

In 2017, Hicks again came to Spring Training with a strong work ethic. This time, he realized he had to battle for the starting job. Eventually, Judge won the starting spot and Hicks was relegated to the bench; many Yankee fans rejoiced. Hicks began to see occasional playing time, and after Jacoby Ellsbury was injured in mid-May, he was granted the reins to the starting centerfield job.

That brings us to present day. In 59 games, Hicks is getting on base at a season-high .397 on base clip. He’s pounded out 10 long balls already. Hicks’ plate discipline has finally came around- his 37 free passes are good for 10th in the American League. In 123 games last season, he managed just 30 walks. The advanced statistics also tell a happy story for Hicks. According to FanGraphs, his 2.8 wins above replacement ranks fifth in the American League, ahead of superstars like Mookie Betts and Carlos Correa. He is finally developing into the five tool player he was drafted to be nine years ago.

The best things really do come to those who wait.

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