2022 was largely a lost season for Aaron Hicks. The 33-year-old switch-hitter wrapped up the campaign as a below-average offensive contributor, and did so in maybe the most frustrating way possible. The outfielder experienced some very solid highs throughout the year, to go along with the almost hard-to-believe lows he went through as well. Hicks’ future with the Yankees, despite being in the middle of a contract, seems murky now after his rough 2022.
2022 Statistics: 130 games, 453 PA, .216/.330/.313, 90 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR
2023 Contract Status: Entering fifth year of 7 year, $70 million contract
We’ll cover the bad parts of Hicks’ 2022 first, as they are the most obvious and recent aspects to consider. This was the worst (relatively) full season the outfielder has put up since his first year in New York in 2016. His 24.1 percent strikeout rate was one of the worst such figures he’s maintained over his career. But perhaps most concerning, was the complete disappearance of his power.
The veteran slugged just .313 (lower than his on-base) with eight home runs over the year. He also amassed just 19 extra-base hits over his 453 plate appearances. It was a startling drop-off for Hicks, including his shortened 2021 season. Even worse, it was not like he was running into bad luck or underperforming. Outside of his solid plate discipline, things looked pretty bleak.
As I mentioned, his decision making at the plate looked great for sizeable parts of the season, as he walked a ton and didn’t chase out of the zone much, but that can only get you so far. For most of this season, on the back of his diminished pop, Hicks was largely a hole in the lineup.
Out of everyone who assigned grades here, I gave Hicks the highest with a C. That is not necessarily a hill I’d be willing to die on, but I wanted to at least acknowledge the good stretches that happened over the course of the year.
There was some ridiculous variability in Hicks’ production this year, with his monthly wRC+ numbers going as follows: 135, 25, 111, 157, 9 (!), 89. All in all, he finished with a 90 wRC+, not good by any stretch of the imagination, but it could certainly be worse. But, I think his solid stretches of positive contributions are worth noting. He was the Yankees’ fourth best qualified hitter in June and July. Any of his production at some points of the season, however, were mostly negated by his abysmal low points. I would not feel good about his prospects going forward, but he did have his moments this year, as overshadowed as they may have become.
Regardless, Hicks’ abilities, and his status with the Yanks as a result, are certainly in question going forward. He is still in the middle of a seven-year deal — that now looks a heck of a lot worse than it did upon its signing — which makes things much more difficult for New York. We are now a long way removed from his 27-homer, 4+ win season in 2018, and hope for Hicks to return anywhere close to that form is minimal at best.
The 33-year-old carries basically no trade value at this point, and is owed $10 million per year for three more seasons. Hicks’ season came to an end on an even more unfortunate note, colliding with Oswaldo Cabrera in the division series and injuring his knee. All of this considered, his future with the Yankees seems questionable at best. I probably looked at his 2022 season more forgivingly that many others would, but it seems unlikely Hicks retains much of a role in New York going forward.