The Yankees entered Wednesday with the highest slugging percentage in the American League, a product mostly of their top five hitters — Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu.
Aaron Hicks is one of the roster that showed signs of promise, but fell short of power.
He entered Tuesday with the lowest slugging percentage of any Yankees regular (.294) and was particularly unproductive on the left side of the plate.
Hicks is confident the power will come and it’s not the result of the surgery he underwent last season to repair a torn sheath in his left wrist.
“The wrist is great,” Hicks said.
But through 87 plate appearances, Hicks had only one extra hit.
So where did the power go?
According to Hicks, it’s more a product of all the time he’s been missing – not just last season, but since 2019.
“I just think a lot of it depends on seeing the big league throwing and how that has evolved and changed,” Hicks said. “There’s more off-speed stuff now than fastballs and I’m trying to plan a game against that.”
It’s something he didn’t do much of when he was limited to 32 games last season.
The last time he appeared in more than 59 games was in 2018, when Hicks played 132 games – although he was largely healthy during the 2020 season which was shortened to 60 games due to COVID.
“I’m just trying to get back to where I was,” Hicks said. “I was focused on trying to get hits and making sure I got off to a good start and I think I did pretty well with that.”
He still considers power an important part of his game and thinks it will come back as he gets more comfortable at the plate.
“I hit the ball the other way with my left hand, which is not usual for me,” Hicks said. “The more bats I get, the more I’ll go back to my old self.”
He entered Tuesday 11 for 34 from the left side – all in singles. And he was 6 for 21 right-handed batting, with a homer.
“I’m just missing a few pitches, which I think is because I was out for so long last year and then we had spring training cut short,” Hicks said of the game. truncated spring caused by the MLB lockout in the offseason. “I couldn’t lock myself in”
Runs and power declined around the majors, with factors including typical cold weather, improved pitching, and the possibility of softballs.
Hicks was unable to identify the problem, but scouts are conflicted over what to do with Hicks’ start.
“He was patient and got down to basics, but I was waiting for him to shine that power,” an AL scout said. “It’s not always there consistently, but it always comes out at some point.”
Another scout pointed to Mark Teixeira, who had a similar wrist injury to Hicks and needed about a year to rediscover his power shot.
“I don’t think everyone recovers the same way, especially with something like this,” the NL scout said.
Hicks’ average exit speed is around his career numbers.
“I think he’s healthy and the warmer weather and more at-bats will get him back to where he was,” the NL scout said.
New York Post