It’s a Minnesota Twins fan’s worst nightmare: Aaron Hicks thrives with a change of scenery and Twins fans are left to wonder what could have been.
“Hicks…came up before his bat was ready — his glove was ready, but his bat had developed gradually over the previous three years — and in hindsight it appears skipping Triple-A was the wrong move for him,” writes Keith Law for ESPN Insider.
“He was a different hitter in 2015, becoming much less passive, taking fewer strikes and looking more for pitches to drive when he was ahead in the count. Now he’s moving to a better park for power and will have a full-time job from day one.”
The Twins thought so highly of Hicks in 2013 that they called him up directly from Double-A and inserted him as the team’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder. He struggled, finishing the year below the Mendoza line after 281 at-bats.
He had a bit of a breakout last year under the tutelage of Torii Hunter, hitting .256/.323/.398 in 352 at-bats in his age 25 season. In the offseason, Minnesota traded him to the New York Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.
“If somebody’s concerned about Hicks not getting a chance, I’ve got to talk to them,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said at the end of the season, noting that he was one of the biggest advocates for Hicks within the organization and admitting that he may have brought him up too soon.
“If you’re talking about Hicks, you’re talking about the wrong guy. He’s had a lot of chances and he’s doing something with it here recently, but we’ve been criticized to the extreme about chances.”
Law did add a caveat at the end of his post, alluding to the fact that Hicks dropped switch-hitting at one point with the Twins. “Devil’s advocate,” he wrote. “Even in a mild breakout year in 2015, he was still substantially better when hitting from the right side.”
Photo credit: Cumulus Media[ESPN]