If you just watch a highlight reel of the season without knowing anything else about it, you might think that Aaron Hicks was an integral part of the 2019 Yankees.
In reality, he missed nearly two-thirds of the season as well as the ALDS. He was involved in two of the more memorable plays from the season, however. He just wasn’t too much of a factor due to the injuries he suffered, including one that will affect him into 2020.
2019 Statistics: 59 games, 255 plate appearances, .235/.325/.443, 12 home runs, 36 RBI, 41 runs, 102 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
2020 Contract Status: In second year of 7-year, $70 million contact
On the heels of his career year in 2018, Hicks and the Yankees announced that they had agreed to a seven-year contract extension very early into spring training. Not even a week later, he suffered a back injury that at first was said to just be a “day-to-day” situation. However, that pretty quick devolved into him getting multiple cortisone shots and starting the regular season on the injured list.
That “starting the regular season on the injured list” thing would last for multiple weeks until he finally made his 2019 season debut on May 15th. His first hit of the year came three days later, and his first home run a day after that.
Hicks started his season fairly slowly, putting up a .565 OPS in his first 12 games. In his 13th, he recorded a two-hit game, and from that point on, he was mostly good. From June 4 through the rest of his season, Hicks put up number not similar from the previous two seasons. There was a stretch in late July where he raised his overall season OPS from .764 to .825 in basically one week. He appeared to be getting back to the player the Yankees saw fit to give the contract extension.
His most memorable game of the season came during that week. In the July 23rd game in Minnesota, Hicks went 3-for-6, hitting a home run, which, at the time, appeared to be a game winner after the Yankees had fallen behind in the bottom of the eighth. However, the Twins came back to tie it. The Yankees re-took the lead in the 10th, but then Minnesota threatened again in the bottom half of the frame.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Max Kepler took one to the gap in left-center. It seemed destined to find the ground and at the very least tie the game. Instead, this happened:
Remember when Aaron Hicks turned into Superman last night?pic.twitter.com/hqKlEb8iC9— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 24, 2019
Just as he appeared to be rounding back into form, another injury struck a little more than a week after that catch. He went back on the IL with a right flexor strain, and that soon became a similar story to his other injury. He seemingly suffered some setbacks while rehabbing and stories started coming out in September that he was done for the year and needed Tommy John surgery.
Yet, then the playoffs began and reports started coming that he could potentially be activated for the ALCS. Low and behold, he was. He came off the bench in Game Two, before starting the next two games, where he recorded one hit. However, Game Five was his big moment.
With the game tied and two runners on in the first, Hicks stepped to the plate against Justin Verlander. The Yankees’ backs were against the wall, and Hicks delivered one of the more cathartic moments in recent Yankee history.
GET LOUD NEW YORK!— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 18, 2019
3-run shot off of the foul pole from Aaron Hicks! pic.twitter.com/SzSagiuqPw
Those were all the runs the Yankees would need in that game as they stayed alive.
After the Yankees were eliminated a game later, again came reports that Hicks would need Tommy John surgery. He remained optimistic that he wouldn’t have to, but on October 30, he did undergo the procedure. The expected recovery period is 8-10 months. Didi Gregorius underwent his slightly earlier in October 2018 and was back in early June. Not all rehab processes are the same, but the 8-10 month timeline would put his return sometime between June and August.
Aaron Hicks’ 2019 season wasn’t very long, but you can’t say it wasn’t eventful.