He has put together some solid seasons since joining the Yankees in 2016 but hasn’t taken the next step to solidify his place as an above average player.
However, there is reason to think that 2021 could be a breakout season.
Aaron Hicks smoking the ball in BP 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7BNsY3LQYi
— G.T Julian Guilarte (@JulianGuilarte1) February 26, 2021
As Hicks enters his age-31 season, there are reasons for Yankees fans to be excited for his ninth major league season.
Here is a look into why Hicks may be a sleeper contributor for the franchise this year.
Hicks Took Step Forward in 2020
On paper, Hicks had a poor 2020 season.
He slugged just six home runs in 54 games, posting a .225 batting average.
However, he saw a significant boost to his on-base percentage.
IT'S A TYING 2-RUN HOME RUN OFF THE BAT OF AARON HICKS! HICKS! HITS ONE TO THE STICKS! pic.twitter.com/wPC5YnmK01
— John Sterling Calls (@JSterlingCalls) August 30, 2020
He posted a career high of .379, a whopping .154 greater than his batting average.
While this number is still lower than other players in the league, the ratio between his OBP and average puts him at an elite level.
Hicks may have struggled when hitting the ball, but his eye was the best it has ever been.
With his past displays of power, including hitting 27 home runs in 2018, Hicks has the potential to become a solid option in the Yankees lineup.
His eye in 2020 proved that he has matured at the plate, potentially a good sign moving forward.
After the 2019 season, Hicks underwent the infamous Tommy John surgery to repair a tear in his UCL.
He was expected to miss 8 to 10 months and a large portion of the next year.
However, with the season being pushed back, Hicks was able to play the entire year and remained healthy.
Now, he is at 100% heading into 2021.
“I definitely feel like it’s 100% right now, just with the way I’m able to throw to bases,” Hicks said.
This is a major difference for the centerfielder, as he said it is a major difference from how it felt last season.
Aaron HIcks says he's feels 100 percent recovered from Tommy John surgery. #Yankees
— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) February 25, 2021
This type of injury also has an impact on how a hitter swing.
It was especially the case for Hicks, who is a switch-hitter, when batting lefty.
Hicks said that he was nervous about extending his right arm when batting and reinjuring it.
This year, it seems that he is swinging at full effort with little worry.
That alone could make a huge difference for his power numbers, something that he has already set some lofty expectations for.
Hicks Has Confidence
Throughout his five seasons in New York, Hicks has struggled with injuries.
This has severely limited his time on the field.
However, the team is still clearly set on him being their centerfielder for the foreseeable future.
This naturally instills a lot of confidence in him, something he has made obvious early in Spring Training camp.
If he can stay healthy, Hicks has said that he is confident in reaching the 30 home run mark.
While this would be a career high, it is not out of reach.
If he is able to stay on the field for 140 games and keep this level of confidence, there is no reason to think that he won’t be a difference maker for the Yankees.
On top of this, he still provides the team with stellar defense in center.
Aaron Hicks says GAME OVER 😱😱 pic.twitter.com/8fcOTUfikZ
— A.J. Herrmann (@AJHerrmannYES) July 24, 2019
Hicks could ultimately end up being the difference in a potential World Series run.