Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
The same great Twins Daily coverage, now for the Vikings.

The Store


Photo

Article: Revisiting Aaron Hicks and Switch-Hitting

  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 2,068 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 08:38 AM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...-Switch-Hitting

#2 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,123 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 08:47 AM

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

#3 tjsyam921

tjsyam921

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 129 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 09:07 AM

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

#4 stringer bell

stringer bell

    Confirmed Hacker

  • Twins News Team
  • 4,043 posts
  • LocationZumbrota MN

Posted 16 May 2014 - 09:49 AM

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.

#5 nicksaviking

nicksaviking

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3,706 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 10:03 AM

"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.

#6 jokin

jokin

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 7,095 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 10:09 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]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. [/COLOR]

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]But if the Twins are truly reaching the end of their rope with Hicks, it's worth a shot, right?
[/COLOR]
[COLOR=#3E3E3E]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.[/COLOR]


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.

#7 tobi0040

tobi0040

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,331 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 11:05 AM

"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.

#8 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,092 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 11:15 AM

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.

#9 TheDean

TheDean

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 155 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 11:48 AM

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.

#10 troyhobbs

troyhobbs

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 180 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 11:57 AM

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.

#11 Beezer07

Beezer07

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 629 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 12:00 PM

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).

#12 DJL44

DJL44

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 300 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 12:48 PM

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.

#13 twinsguy14

twinsguy14

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 11 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:10 PM

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.

#14 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:20 PM

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.

#15 jokin

jokin

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 7,095 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:25 PM

. 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.

Edited by jokin, 16 May 2014 - 02:31 PM.


#16 tobi0040

tobi0040

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,331 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:26 PM

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?

Edited by tobi0040, 16 May 2014 - 02:28 PM.


#17 kblack1011

kblack1011

    Member

  • Members
  • 52 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:42 PM

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.

#18 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:53 PM

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.."

#19 Paul Pleiss

Paul Pleiss

    Alcohol Infused

  • Members
  • 575 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:45 PM

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.

#20 jokin

jokin

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 7,095 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:49 PM

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.;)

#21 Guest_USAFChief_*

Guest_USAFChief_*
  • Guests

Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:26 PM

Lets everyone stick to the topic of Hicks, please, and off unwarranted attacks on team officials or discussion of moderators.

#22 Paul Pleiss

Paul Pleiss

    Alcohol Infused

  • Members
  • 575 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:38 PM

Here's a question. How bad would Hicks have to be from the left side before the Twins directed him to stop switch hitting altogether, especially when Hicks says he feels more comfortable from that side, a side that he sees 70% of his ABs from?
__________________
Follow me, @BaseballPirate, on Twitter, read my writing at Baseball Twins and check out the Talk to Contact Podcast (@TalkToContact) or email the show: talktocontact@gmail.com

#23 drock2190

drock2190

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 223 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 05:35 PM

Call me a pessimist but I dont see Hicks being anything other then a 4th outfielder in the future. He's only had two decent seasons that he batted very well and they were both fueled by high BABIP which happens a lot in the minors but not the majors unless your a talented player. Make matters worse the highest ISO hes had was .173 the year he did well in Double AA.

Looking back that draft year was pretty bad especially the first round. The best players are Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer and Andrew Cashner. Cashner would have been a nice pick.

#24 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:17 PM

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).


Some right handers actually hit better against right handed pitchers. I know Gaetti was like that. I never hit lefties well myself, and I was a decent left handed hitter when I wanted to. But I had no power from the left side, so I only batted right, and I hit better against righties than lefties. I think that's typical for natural right-handed hitters like Hicks.

I don't have the data in front of me, but it seems like platoon disadvantage is more of a left-handed thing. In other words, lefties struggle more in general with lefties than they do with righties. But they see so few lefties that they hit well overall. Jacque Jones is an example. On the other hand, righties who struggle against righties don't stay in the game, because nobody can justify a guy who can just hit right handed against lefties. Though righties hit better against lefties, they have to be at least competent against righties or they will not stay in the game. Matt LeCroy is exhibit A. Trevor Plouffe is on the cusp.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#25 drock2190

drock2190

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 223 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:33 PM

But they see so few lefties that they hit well overall. Jacque Jones is an example.


Career batting average versus righties: .289 Lefties: 233

I think its safe to say he didnt hit very well overall. Of course for hicks that would be an excellent average :)

#26 stringer bell

stringer bell

    Confirmed Hacker

  • Twins News Team
  • 4,043 posts
  • LocationZumbrota MN

Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:47 PM

If Hicks were to give up switch-hitting there is a real good chance that he will still have a severe platoon split and would be labeled a part-time player. I am not an expert, but I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with his left handed swing. I do see Hicks having problems with breaking balls and having the ball break away from him would make the problem worse.

#27 stringer bell

stringer bell

    Confirmed Hacker

  • Twins News Team
  • 4,043 posts
  • LocationZumbrota MN

Posted 16 May 2014 - 06:56 PM

Career batting average versus righties: .289 Lefties: 233

I think its safe to say he didnt hit very well overall. Of course for hicks that would be an excellent average :)


Batting average splits tell us something, but a lot of the time, not everything. There are several guys who put up decent averages but have no extra-base pop against same-handed pitchers.

#28 longstrangetrip

longstrangetrip

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 351 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 08:32 PM

Good discussion of a topic clearly worthy of discussion. The delta between his RHB and LHB numbers is too large to ignore.

I'm much more troubled, though, by the comments this week about his lack of preparation. It is astounding to me that a big league ballplayer would show up not knowing who the opposition pitcher is...just astounding. To me it hints at a lack of passion for the game. I would venture to guess that well over 75 % of the participants on this board generally know in the morning who is going to be on the bump against the Twins that night. And that's because we have a passion for the game. Baseball is a cerebral game, and it's fun to think about strategy and matchups, and how you're going to beat a guy. I guess I always assumed major leaguers thrived on that kind of thinking too, but it's clear Aaron doesn't.

I'm 63 years young tomorrow, and grateful that I can still play this game I love twice a week...don't want to even think about hanging up my spikes for the last time. My next game is Sunday morning, and I know who is pitching and am already thinking about his patterns and tendencies. Sometime tomorrow I will review notes I keep about at bats I have had against him in the past, and even put some thought into their key relievers. And I will show up Sunday morning with a plan. Shouldn't we expect the same from Hicksy?

#29 stringer bell

stringer bell

    Confirmed Hacker

  • Twins News Team
  • 4,043 posts
  • LocationZumbrota MN

Posted 16 May 2014 - 08:49 PM

First of all, Happy Birthday! LST. Secondly, I am glad that you are able to play baseball at 63. I love to golf and this year I've been limited to 9 holes all year and I'm afraid that might be it for the season if not my career. Regarding Hicks--We are interpreting an anecdote into a whole pattern. It may well be that Hicks never is aware of who is pitching, but I doubt it. I have said that I think the team is setting the table to send him down and using this perception of lack of preparation rather than inability to hit. Maybe it is just the frustration--bad performance with little outward sign that he's trying to address the problem--that drove the brass to disclose the behind-the-scenes goings-on.

#30 longstrangetrip

longstrangetrip

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 351 posts

Posted 16 May 2014 - 09:01 PM

You're probably right, stringer...either a precursor to sending him down or one final attempt to fire him up.

Thanks for the birthday greetings! And by the way, even though I'm still playing ball, I had to put away my golf clubs 3 years ago. It was too tough on the lower back for me, and it hurt to swing a club...swinging a bat seems more natural to me. Oh well...I loved the game, but to be honest I was never a good golfer. I hope you're able to find a miracle cure for whatever is keeping you off the links.