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Thread: Article: Revisiting Aaron Hicks and Switch-Hitting

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    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Article: Revisiting Aaron Hicks and Switch-Hitting


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    I'm all for it......

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    Hicks is talented, but he's not that talented that he can play with no game plan or preparation.

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    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    Two things about Hicks hitting exclusively righty. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all pitchers throw right, so Hicks would be throwing away that advantage. Secondly, lefty hitters have the advantage of being closer to first, in part from where they stand but also because the momentum of a full swing points them at first base. That accounts for beating out hits and double play relays over the course of a season. I am no expert, but my analysis of Hicks is trouble with the breaking ball which would only be exacerbated by having the pitch breaking away from him.

    I believe it is confidence most of all that Hicks lacks and he just needs to master hitting at the right level. I think that level is AAA.

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    "Last year, through 29 games, the outfielder was batting .133/.239/.214. This year, at the same point, his line is .170/.315/.239. While Hicks has shown an improved approach at the plate, he simply is not hitting the ball."

    Patience everybody, patience! If these numbers tell us anything, a .037 BA improvment a year means he'll be batting well over .400 in seven years.

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    It's a big change. It would probably require heading to the minors and essentially rebuilding his approach. That might take some time, as Hicks hasn't regularly seen right-handed pitching from the right side in probably close to a decade.

    But if the Twins are truly reaching the end of their rope with Hicks, it's worth a shot, right?

    Nowhere has Hicks appeared to have less of a plan -- or at least, been less able to execute a plan -- than from the left side.
    The Twins should have been reaching the end of their rope after Hicks completely crashed in 2013- why wasn't he working on right-hand-only batting beginning last August. and why weren't the Twins more insistent on "reading the riot act" on Hicks, playing, and working on making the switch in winter ball?

    As far as indictment for lack of a plan, how is it that Hicks has been in the organization for 7 years- and it only just occurs to the braintrust now?- ie., that Hicks needs to have a plan? How did they essentially give a guy, who'd repeatedly proven to be a very slow learner, the leadoff spot in 2013, and of course, the critical CF spot, unopposed, not once, but twice?

    As I've stated before, I am of the opinion that they just didn't care enough about Hicks as a long-term cog, and were counting on just getting by with Hicks until Buxton hit the ground running later this year or early 2015.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
    "Last year, through 29 games, the outfielder was batting .133/.239/.214. This year, at the same point, his line is .170/.315/.239. While Hicks has shown an improved approach at the plate, he simply is not hitting the ball."

    Patience everybody, patience! If these numbers tell us anything, a .037 BA improvment a year means he'll be batting well over .400 in seven years.
    At this point, do we have any CF that will get on base .315? If we do it won't be by much. Crazy as it sounds, if we lack a real upgrade then maybe you keep him up here and hope it clicks. This is all dependent on him sitting down the Joe Mauer before each game and watching tape on the next pitcher. Hearing the lack of preparation is dissapointing.

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    Senior Member All-Star Shane Wahl's Avatar
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    A question:

    How transferrable is discipline really from the minors to the majors? I know that the claim is that it is pretty transferrable, but when the difference is, for instance, pitchers who *can* get the breaking pitches over for strikes vs. those who cannot, then it would seem that adjustments need to be made to maintain that walk rate. Now Hicks has done that, finally (?), in MLB (evidence is his walk rate). He has always been slowish to adjust and actually hit the ball, so I am still not totally worried. I just wish there was an alternative reality where he could spend time righty-only to see how that works for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
    At this point, do we have any CF that will get on base .315? If we do it won't be by much. Crazy as it sounds, if we lack a real upgrade then maybe you keep him up here and hope it clicks. This is all dependent on him sitting down the Joe Mauer before each game and watching tape on the next pitcher. Hearing the lack of preparation is dissapointing.
    You bring up a good point:
    A .076 increase in OBP over his stat line from this time last year? That's pretty decent. Hicks bats at the end of the lineup, and his OBP is his most important offensive attribute for the team right now. He has speed on the basepaths for Dozier, Mauer, and co to drive in.

    That's not to say that he couldn't use some improvement with the bat. Eventually he needs to cultivate some value with a decent SLG (it's pretty deplorable right now), but his game has always included walking. I think we're all biased against low AVG more than we should be. However, average and slugging are connected, and they'll both go up together if he can make better contact.

    .315 is better than PFlo's .194, Herrmann's .190, or even CC's .287. Granted, all of them have earned (or likely will earn in CC's case) demotions. It's possible that Hicks is next.

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    Senior Member Double-A troyhobbs's Avatar
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    Hicks will never be a .300+ hitter or solid lead-off man. It's on the Twinkies for not recognizing that and throwing him out there as a 23 yr old, rushing him because they traded away 2 ideal MLB caliber CF/leadoff men. Hitting major league pitching is hard and Hicks might not get it for a few years yet but he's still the best CF on the roster, sadly.

    So what's worse, Hicks approach at the plate or Antony's approach to building a roster?

    I think it's kinda BS he called him out publicly, it's interesting to hear but probably could've been kept in-house. Ripping on the players is our job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
    Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all pitchers throw right, so Hicks would be throwing away that advantage.
    This is actually really important. Right now, Hicks gets a platoon advantage on 100% of his RH at-bats. How will his slash line react to only getting a platoon advantage 1/3 of the time? I'd imagine it'll drop precipitously (from his current RH-only line).

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    Hicks' platoon splits as a LH batter are far worse than would be expected from a RH batter facing RH pitchers. That's why people think he should give it up.

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  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
    The Twins should have been reaching the end of their rope after Hicks completely crashed in 2013- why wasn't he working on right-hand-only batting beginning last August. and why weren't the Twins more insistent on "reading the riot act" on Hicks, playing, and working on making the switch in winter ball?

    As far as indictment for lack of a plan, how is it that Hicks has been in the organization for 7 years- and it only just occurs to the braintrust now?- ie., that Hicks needs to have a plan? How did they essentially give a guy, who'd repeatedly proven to be a very slow learner, the leadoff spot in 2013, and of course, the critical CF spot, unopposed, not once, but twice?

    As I've stated before, I am of the opinion that they just didn't care enough about Hicks as a long-term cog, and were counting on just getting by with Hicks until Buxton hit the ground running later this year or early 2015.
    . Nobody, absolutely nobody would have or did look at this kids spring training numbers in 2013 and his talent potential and not think he could handle the centerfield job. Everyone commenting on here was in favor. You would have ripped the Twins if they hadn't brought him up and you are ripping them in hindsight now because they did. In this case they had no reason to believe he wasnt going to be at least competent.

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    Senior Member All-Star cmathewson's Avatar
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    I think he should abandon switch hitting. But it was Antony who insisted he continue last spring. I don't know if Antony ever talks to players directly, or he just uses the media. But it's not all on Aaron Hicks that he continues to switch hit. He continues to be coached to do so. It just irks me that they blame players and fail to take any responsibility themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twinsguy14 View Post
    . Nobody, absolutely nobody would have or did look at this kids spring training numbers in 2013 and his talent potential and not think he could handle the centerfield job. Everyone commenting on here was in favor. You would have ripped the Twins if they hadn't brought him up and you are ripping them in hindsight now because they did. In this case they had no reason to believe he wasnt going to be at least competent.
    Obviously, you weren't around TD in ST 2013. If so, you wouldn't be making the wild and outlandish statements you are asserting here- which are demonstrably not true, if you just go revisit the Hicks threads at the time. Many of us pointed out, in preseason, and during his big Spring Training, of his minor league history, and the troubling aspects therein. And there were multiple discussions about the meaningless of Spring Training numbers in terms of ML predictability.

    The last week of 2013 ST, I essentially said, give him the job- there isn't a realistic alternative, but expect him to be making a couple return trips to the minors- and that is, in fact, exactly what happened. Doesn't make me Nostradamus, but the predictability of what happened does follow the typical path of a rookie, and especially one with Hicks's minor league track record- in point of fact, there were many, many reasons to believe that he might not be ready to play ML CF, let alone bat Leadoff.

    If "everyone" was in favor in 2013 for going with Hicks, it was because the Twins made no effort to go out and get another option, and hence, made a conscious decision, that there was No. Other. Option.
    Last edited by jokin; 05-16-2014 at 03:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
    I think he should abandon switch hitting. But it was Antony who insisted he continue last spring. I don't know if Antony ever talks to players directly, or he just uses the media. But it's not all on Aaron Hicks that he continues to switch hit. He continues to be coached to do so. It just irks me that they blame players and fail to take any responsibility themselves.
    Batting left his OPS is .540. Batting right his OPS is .725. I have made this point before, but his dad "challenged" him to switch hit at 11 or 12 as a test to see if he really wanted to play baseball (his dad didn't want him to play baseball because he was beaned). It seemed forced then and forced now. If they send him down, I agree. Why not? Would he be any worse than .540 OPS hitting right against righties?
    Last edited by tobi0040; 05-16-2014 at 03:28 PM.

  20. #17
    Hicks needs to go down to the minors and work on his hitting. He has never shown he could hit above AA, so whether he drops switch hitting or not, he has to find himself as a hitter. I can't blame the Twins for starting him at the beginning of last year, I don't think 23 is young for a top prospect (young for the Twins, but not for the league).

    The problem they have is the roster they have built over the last 2 years. And that falls on Ryan not Antony. Antony hasn't help over the last 2 months, but outfield roster has been a mess for the last 2 years. When Hicks struggled early last year, he should have been sent down, but they had no option then either.

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    Senior Member All-Star cmathewson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
    Batting left his OPS is .540. Batting right his OPS is .725. I have made this point before, but his dad "challenged" him to switch hit at 11 or 12 as a test to see if he really wanted to play baseball (his dad didn't want him to play baseball because he was beaned). It seemed forced then and forced now. If they send him down, I agree. Why not? Would he be any worse than .540 OPS hitting right against righties?
    I agree with this logic and always have. I just don't care for the way this organization has handled him. If they think he shouldn't switch hit, tell him to stop switch hitting, send him down to get used to hitting exclusively from the right side, and get on with it. Antony's attitude is to blame players for their lack of ambition or preparation or approach or whatever, and to do it publicly. In the process, the player feels like crap and Antony just comes off as a self-righteous jerk.

    Episode 1126 in the continuing saga of the PR intern who went to scout camp and became a Peter Principle Poster Child. I wonder how many times he had to wash Jim Pohlad's car to get this job.
    "If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

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    Senior Member Triple-A Paul Pleiss's Avatar
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    I don't think Hicks needs to stop switch-hitting, he just needs to be less selective when he gets two strikes. His walk rate this season is great, up almost 10% from his career rate and he's getting on base more than 30% of the time despite a terrible BABIP as a lefty. Yes, his BA looks terrible, but I think when you get beyond that things aren't nearly as bad as the BA would lead you to believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
    I agree with this logic and always have. I just don't care for the way this organization has handled him. If they think he shouldn't switch hit, tell him to stop switch hitting, send him down to get used to hitting exclusively from the right side, and get on with it. Antony's attitude is to blame players for their lack of ambition or preparation or approach or whatever, and to do it publicly. In the process, the player feels like crap and Antony just comes off as a self-righteous jerk.

    Episode 1126 in the continuing saga of the PR intern who went to scout camp and became a Peter Principle Poster Child. I wonder how many times he had to wash Jim Pohlad's car to get this job.
    PPPC Car Polisher, huh? Brilliantly, brutally honest enough for some bannin' activities, methinks.

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