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Should Aaron Hicks be the Yankees’ 3-hole hitter?

Should Aaron Hicks be the three hitter for the New York Yankees?

This is a fair question that many fans continue to ask and voice their opinions on. It’s a question that has been relevant for some years now and will continue to be if Hicks doesn’t turn it around.

Hicks is now 1-15 with seven strikeouts to start the season. Granted, we’re only five games into the year, so these numbers cannot be over analyzed. It’s an extremely small sample size. But when you start to look further into the past, you can’t help but ask if we have better options for the three-spot in the lineup.

In 17 spring training games, Hicks had a mediocre .205 average. But let’s continue to expand the sample size. In 2020, Hicks hit .225 but he did have a high on base percentage at .379. Aside from his average, his power was not where many expect it to be. In 211 AB’s last year, he hit six home runs, which averages to 17 over the course of 600 AB’s. Not terrible, but not a whole lot of power out of the three-hole for the Yankees.

Let’s look further. In 2019, his power numbers were good in an injury shortened season. He hit 12 home runs in 59 games. Unfortunately, the average and on-base weren’t there. A .225 average and a .325 OBP. He also had a career high strikeout rate with 28.2%. Despite the low averages, his power landed him a decent 1.3 offensive WAR in 59 games.

2018 brings us back to his breakout year — the Aaron Hicks we all want to see in 2021. He put it all together. The good average, great OBP, and great power from a “toolsy” switch hitting CF. There’s only one problem: this was three years ago.

I know Covid and Tommy John surgery have greatly affected his production over this time frame, but two years is still a long period of time since we’ve seen, what we thought, was a breakout year. Look at Miguel Andujar for example. In 2018, he had an insane season and was looked at as a future star. Since then, he has had injuries and has played mediocre. Now he’s not even in the major leagues anymore. I am not saying this is going to happen to Hicks because the scenarios are completely different, but if it only takes two years of injuries and mediocre play for Andjuar to be off a roster, then it can most definitely take Hicks out of the three-hole.

Don’t get me wrong, Aaron Hicks is a great player to have. But has he hit good enough to be that high in the lineup? A team with a payroll of over $200 million. A team that is considered a powerhouse and the AL favorite to win the World Series. All of those attributes are factual, yet our three-hitter has the lowest career average out of every three-hitter in baseball. So the answer to that question is no, at least for now.

Yes, he’s a switch hitter and a  high on base guy with power. Theoretically, it makes sense for him to break up the righty batters in the two and four spots. But until he becomes the 2018 Hicks, the lineup needs more firepower and consistency in the three-spot, especially when you have a roster full of other Bronx Bombers.

What do you think? Should Aaron Hicks bat third? Let me know on Twitter @Nolan_DeMelfi