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Time to be concerned about Aaron Hicks?

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:48 PM

During Spring Training, I had several opinions on players--some were right on, some were debatable, and some were totally wrong. I was wrong about Chris Colabello--I never thought he could amount to more than a spare part on any big league team. I was right, I think, that he should not be considered an outfielder. I was right about Kyle Gibson and Trevor Plouffe (so far) and wrong as far as Josmil Pinto being used as a DH.

The opinion I probably spent the most time discussing was that Aaron Hicks should have started 2013 in the minor leagues. I was willing to see the Twins start with Alex Presley and have him replaced by Hicks if Aaron played well enough in Rochester.

Day games during the week have prevented me from seeing much Twins action. However, I check out every game and every box score. So far, Hicks is hitting .167 with a .492 OPS, he has walked 11 times, but struck out 18. From what I have seen, he isn't hitting in particularly bad luck and he hasn't looked particularly potent from either side of the plate.

Much conversation has centered on the lack of hitting from the Twins starting shortstop. I think we fans and the front office should be equally concerned about the present center fielder. Tuesday will be Hicks' 100th game as a Twin. Is anyone getting the vibe that Hicks will never be a decent hitter? I've said for a while that the best situation for the Twins is to have Hicks display competence as a major league hitter and center fielder and then trade him as soon as Buxton is ready. I maintain that Hicks will not hit enough to be a corner guy and one way or another he end up on another team as a center fielder (ceiling) or be Joe
Benson (high draft choice, great tools, couldn't hit) and struggle to find another big league gig (floor).

The Twins' offense has been surprisingly potent so far this year. So far, Hicks and Florimon haven't really joined the party. I'm at least now entertaining the notion that neither guy ever will.

#2 kab21

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:57 PM

I continue to be unimpressed by Hicks and continue to lower his ceiling that others keep touting.

#3 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:08 PM

I know its only a few months last year and less than a month this year, but I'm shocked at how he just doesn't seem like a ballplayer to me. I am very worried, even his defense has been pretty awful at times. And he just plain can't hit.
Some guys are late bloomers and need 1000 PA's before they start to figure it out. Hicks could be one of those guys, but the unfortunate part is that giving a guy who cant hit 1000 PA's takes a ton of patience.

#4 stringer bell

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:22 PM

Of the so-called five tools, the "hit tool" seems to me to be the hardest to project. Sometimes it is curve balls, sometimes it is high fastballs, sometimes it inability to adjust to a certain location, but some guys just never develop that tool, including very good athletes. Torii Hunter and Carlos Gomez are two other Twin center fielders who couldn't really hit until much later in their careers. Maybe Hicks will develop like one of those guys or maybe he'll hit like Rich Becker.

#5 twinsfaninsaudi

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:56 PM

Hicks has had several points in his career where he's had people heading for the exits on him only to pull them back at the las second. He's about getting there now in the majors. Personally, I still think he'll pan out.

#6 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:59 PM

Almost a .300 OBP and he hasn't figured it out yet at the plate. I say, let him play. He's got a MLB body, arm and speed. He does look a little non-chalant on defense, and I have no idea about his desire to win. No way can Twins give up on someone that young. The league is full of players the Twins have given up on.

Concern? Sure. Even Mauer merits concern. But none of this is about giving up on what amounts to a "kid" that has all the tools to be a successful player.

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 10:32 PM

While my concern over Hicks is growing, I still think his age, physical tools, and solid (if unspectacular) minor league career warrant a long leash.

Florimon, on the other hand, has pretty much none of that going for him.

#8 drivlikejehu

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 10:52 PM

I'm fine with throwing him out there indefinitely since the Twins aren't contenders and don't have a meaningful alternative. But I don't think he can hit and doubt he is more than a 4th OF even in his prime.

#9 zchrz

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 01:20 AM

It may take some time but I think Hicks will be a good mlb player. In the minors he took awhile to adjust to a new league and then they pushed the issue and promoted him from AA. When he adjusts he has been a patient hitter with some pop, an ok on base threat, and a good to decent defender that can make up for minor mistakes with speed and a absolute cannon arm.

Last year we saw some of the pop but no patience, this year so far we are seeing the patience but no pop. I think those 2 collide at some point, his swing looks out of whack at the moment and he isn't generating good contact but he is working counts. When he is able to work counts and square up the ball I think Hicks will be a solid player.

He should provide a nice value as a corner outfield or trade piece.
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#10 kab21

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:34 AM

It may take some time but I think Hicks will be a good mlb player. In the minors he took awhile to adjust to a new league and then they pushed the issue and promoted him from AA. When he adjusts he has been a patient hitter with some pop, an ok on base threat, and a good to decent defender that can make up for minor mistakes with speed and a absolute cannon arm.

Last year we saw some of the pop but no patience, this year so far we are seeing the patience but no pop. I think those 2 collide at some point, his swing looks out of whack at the moment and he isn't generating good contact but he is working counts. When he is able to work counts and square up the ball I think Hicks will be a solid player.

He should provide a nice value as a corner outfield or trade piece.


People seem to forget that he was also fairly patient in April last year.

The problem is that at no time has he shown that he can hit the ball or avoid striking. Right now he's walking a lot so people can look at his .300ish OBP for encouragement. Last year he hit 6 HR's in one month which basically saved that entire dreadful month OPS wise. At some point he needs to actually start making solid contact with the ball regularly.

Right now I'm putting his realistic upside in the starting caliber player on a bad team. Carlos Gomez turned into a good player so anything is possible but Hicks has looked much worse than Gomez offensively.

#11 mike wants wins

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:39 AM

Summarizing everything I said yesterday......yes, yes it is.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#12 steve

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:57 AM

According to this guy here => http://smartpitcher.blogspot.com/ the time to worry about Hicks is now.

In brief:

Since 1961, Hicks has the 46th most plate appearances of any player with a sub-.200 career batting average. There are a lot of backup catchers in the list of 45 players ahead of Hicks. If the Twins continue to give him at-bats and he doesn't pull things together soon, he could find his way into the top 20 by the All-Star break.


BTW Drew Butera is #21.

Tell your statistics to shut up.


#13 UCLA_YANKEE_COLA

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 09:53 AM

There is no reason not to give him another season to see if he can improve. But at this point he looks like a pretty bad baseball player. Bad routes in the OF, bad AB's. At least he now throws it to the cut off guy sometimes.

#14 Siehbiscuit

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 11:25 AM

Having a good eye at the plate is great to see in a young player. But he can't hit the balls that are over the plate. He has to look to walk to get on base, because he sure isn't going to hit the ball.

#15 Willihammer

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 11:40 AM

There is no reason not to give him another season to see if he can improve. But at this point he looks like a pretty bad baseball player. Bad routes in the OF, bad AB's. At least he now throws it to the cut off guy sometimes.

Here's a reason - he's batting .492 on a .500 ballclub.

This lineup can't afford to have more than one Florimon in it. The whole rationale for keeping Florimon around is that "he doesn't need to hit if everybody else hits." Well, that isn't happening.

There are bright spots, but these two are black holes and if the Twins have any pretension about being competitive into August and September, they need to address one or, preferably, both positions ASAP.

#16 spycake

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:03 PM

According to this guy here => http://smartpitcher.blogspot.com/ the time to worry about Hicks is now.

In brief:

BTW Drew Butera is #21.


Interesting, although it should be noted those are full careers sub-.200. What would be more interesting is how many guys began their careers with 340+ AB of sub-.200 AVG like Hicks, and where they ended up. Or more generally, how guys responded to sub-.200 rookie seasons.

It was pretty easy to write off 2013 as a lost season, rushed to MLB, pressured by the leadoff spot, etc. But the small sample this year suggests that maybe Hicks just isn't much of an AVG hitter right now -- those guys exist, and unfortunately when they start their career that way, they are probably bench guys at best or are out of the league fairly quickly.

But I'm all for giving players chances, in lieu of better options, and Hicks certainly has more rope.

#17 mike wants wins

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:06 PM

Fangraphs chat had some information on this last year, no player that started as badly as Hicks has ever turned out to be "good"....but that comment (made by one of their staff, not a random fan) was buried in a weekly chat....so no idea the depth of the analysis that went into that.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#18 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:07 PM

Here's a reason - he's batting .492 on a .500 ballclub.

This lineup can't afford to have more than one Florimon in it. The whole rationale for keeping Florimon around is that "he doesn't need to hit if everybody else hits." Well, that isn't happening.

There are bright spots, but these two are black holes and if the Twins have any pretension about being competitive into August and September, they need to address one or, preferably, both positions ASAP.


If the team can only have one Pedro Florimon, then Aaron Hicks should be that Pedro Florimon.

#19 spycake

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:10 PM

Here's a reason - he's batting .492 on a .500 ballclub.

This lineup can't afford to have more than one Florimon in it. The whole rationale for keeping Florimon around is that "he doesn't need to hit if everybody else hits." Well, that isn't happening.

There are bright spots, but these two are black holes and if the Twins have any pretension about being competitive into August and September, they need to address one or, preferably, both positions ASAP.


Hadn't thought about our early competitiveness and how it could impact Hicks (and Florimon). I've gotten used to the Twins writing off seasons to rebuilding lately, and 2014 looked similar even with the new SP acquisitions.

If we can hang around .500 that certainly puts more pressure on the underperformers (and more pressure on the front office to replace them). Nunez and Fuld are pretty minor moves in that regard, but they do represent more April activity than the past few seasons, IIRC.

#20 twinscowboysbulls

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:24 PM

I am worried that he refuses to do something he apparently has worked hard at. Bunting for basehits.

He has been extremely unlucky (please don't SABR me here) it seems. The balls he has hit hard seem to find a glove. I'm also curious where the power he displayed went as well. I'm still a believer. I hope Fuld gets CF 3 starts every two weeks against RHP, give Hicks a little adjustment time without benching him, or sending him to AAA.