|Keep going: The lasting image of Aaron Hicks, as described below. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Yankees, who have been a tear lately, greatly improved their ballclub in the last 24 hours, as they brought back outfielder Greg Allen in a trade with the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, and to make room for him on the roster, they eliminated their biggest albatross, Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees should have made this move on Hicks a month ago, as the fans really turned on him more than ever in a series against the Twins, booing him before he even took at-bats, not just after strikeouts.
The low point for Hicks came on Sunday, April 16, in a game that Gerrit Cole threw a complete game shutout in a 2-0 Yankees win, with just one thing that wasn't perfect, as I wrote that day: "The one downside of the afternoon for the Yankees, as it is a lot of days lately, was the performance of left fielder Aaron Hicks, who struck out in each of his three at-bats. He was booed throughout the game, and slammed his helmet following each K, and after his final strikeout in the sixth, he immediately began walking to left field at such a rapid pace that he nearly ran into the grounds crew out manicuring the dirt, as "YMCA" began to play." (pictured above)
The Yankees acquired Hicks in November 2015 for catcher John Ryan Murphy, and he had a tough first year in pinstripes in '16 when he hit .217 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 123 games in a season known for when Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira retired and the then-Baby Bombers Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Tyler Austin were brought up and they missed the postseason.
Then, the following season, Hicks greatly improved, as did the Yankees, who made it to the ALCS. He upped his average to .266 with a .372 on-base percentage, as he hit 15 home runs, with 52 RBI and walked 51 rimes, with just 67 strikeouts in 301 at-bats in 88 games.
2018 was by far his best year in pinstripes overall, as he hit slightly less than the year before, with a .248 average and .366 on-base percentage, but he had 27 home runs and 79 RBI and walked 90 times in 137 games.
Then, the Yankees made what, at the time, was viewed as a solid move to lock him up with a reasonable seven-year, $70 million deal ahead of the 2019 season.
Hicks played in just 59 games that year, and his average dipped slightly to .235, and his OBP dropped 41 points to .325, while he had just 12 home runs and 36 RBI.
Then, it really all turned for him in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, as his average that year fell to .225, followed by .194 in '21, .216 last season, in which he racked up 109 strikeouts in 130 games; and finally .188 this season, with 20 strikeouts in 28 games.
A lot of times when a team gets rid of a player, you can argue it many ways, but with Hicks, this response is easy: Good riddance!
Allen is a seven-year veteran who began his career in Cleveland, where he played from 2017-20 before he was traded to San Diego, where he played just one game in 2020 before his stint with the Yankees in 2021, and then played in Pittsburgh last season.
In 2021, Allen joined the Yankees in July of that season, just as they were making a run to earn a Wild Card berth, and he hit .270 (10-for-48), with no home runs and two RBI, and he notched five stolen bases.
Allen's career high in stolen bases is the 21 he had with Cleveland in 2018 when he played in 91 games. That was the most he played in a season, followed by the 89 games he appeared in the following season.
According to Baseball-reference.com, Allen's 162-game average on stolen bases is 26, and with the new rules that are a lot friendlier to baserunners (bigger bases, limited pickoff attempts for pitchers), he could flourish more than ever.
The stolen base factor was a big reason rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe earned his Opening Day roster spot, and he already has racked up 13 in 47 games. The Yankees were proven correct that the 50 stolen bases he had in the minor leagues last season under the same rules would carry over to The Bronx.