Hicks struggled over four seasons with the Twins and Yankees, but he's one of the best hitters in the majors so far in 2017.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Hicks leaned forward at his locker and asked teammate Didi Gregorius about his tweeting. He wanted to know about the 140-characters-or-less game summaries Gregorius has been posting on Twitter after Yankees victories. Instead of using Hicks’ name, Gregorius has been using a certain emoji.
“Hey, Didi,” Hicks said. “Who am I supposed to be?”
Gregorius, sitting nearby at a card table, laughed and put a look of pretend surprise on his face.
“Who are you supposed to be?” Gregorius asked, still pretending. “I mean, you’re Aaron Hicks!”
Hicks wasn’t letting him off the hook: “What’s my emoji?”
It's no longer too early to worry—which is exactly why Mike is concerned.
Yes, I know: April isn’t even over—heck, we haven’t reached the 1/8th point of the season yet—but there are reasons why I’m nervous about my chances to win this year.
To start with, my competitors seem to have all the freaking luck. I know that Michael Conforto was supposed to be good, but a .365 batting average, four home runs, 15 RBIs, and 18 runs in 86 plate appearances? I thought he was going to provide a fourth outfielder’s production. I know Bryce Harper always gets off to a fast start, but nine home runs and five steals in 96 plate appearances? Boy, do I regret not going the extra dollar on him in Tout Wars. Even more annoying are the hitters who came out of nowhere. Colby Rasmus (7 HR, 19 RBIa, 95 PA) and Aledmys Diaz (4 HR, .423 AVG, 75 PA) are killing me. not only in my AL and NL leagues, but in my mixed leagues as well.
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Have hitters become too passive, or is there something else going on?
Last week, in an article in Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci put forth an argument that the modern game of baseball has a problem. Hitters, he claimed, have become too passive in their approach at the plate as they attempt to drive up the pitch counts of the opposing pitcher. He mixes together a couple of case examples (Joey Votto, Jayson Werth) with some data that appear to show that hitters have become more passive in their approach over time, and are paying for it in declining run production. Maybe Joey and Jayson, and by proxy the rest of the baseball players out there, should swing the bat a little more.
Does it matter that Joey Votto isn't driving in runs?
Something is amiss with Joey Votto. Sure, he’s getting his walks, but as the Big Bat in the lineup paid to drive in runs, he’s struggling tremendously. He has just eight runs batted in—fewer than hardly noted run producers like YunieskyBetancourt, Brett Gardner, Marlon Byrd and notoriously light-hitting teammate Zack Cozart. Clearly, with the overly passive Votto, there’s trouble in River City.
That’s one way to look at the first 22 games of the best player on the National League Central favorite Cincinnati Reds. Maybe how we would have evaluated him in 1980.
Has Yuniesky Betancourt left his free-swinging ways behind?
When the Phillies offered Yuniesky Betancourt an invitation to spring training, we wondered why a team would give even a non-guaranteed contract to a player whose career stats suggested he was without any upside. When Betancourt hit .446/.450/.625 in spring training and landed a major-league contract with Milwaukee, we wondered A) why teams allow themselves to be seduced by spring statistics and B) what it is about Betancourt that makes teams who’ve already seen him firsthand for full seasons decide to bring him back for more. When we last saw Betancourt in the big leagues, he was getting released by the Royals. It was fair to wonder why he’d be any better at age 31 than he was during his replacement-level prime.
How does the plate discipline of Dominican players compare to the league as a whole?
If you read Jorge Arangure Jr.’s great guest piece on Dominican players and plate discipline today, you may have wondered, as I did, whether we could see any difference between Dominicans and non-Dominicans in the data. Jorge mentioned how few Dominicans are among their respective leagues’ leaders in walk rate, but I wanted to see how DR-born players stacked up as a group. I asked BP data dude Dan Turkenkopf to run the numbers, and this is what he found for major leaguers in 2012. (Note: pitcher hitting is included, and the “league” rates include Dominican players.)
Are Dominican hitters hurting themselves by focusing on raw skills at the expense of a patient approach? And can anything be done about it?
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Jorge Arangure has been a baseball writer since 2003. He has worked as a senior writer for ESPN and The Washington Post. He's got #want and is #wet and will probably spend his BP freelancing money drinking with Jason Parks.
Jim Thome's return to the American League leads the new VPs this week as the All-Star break looms ahead.
We’re almost to the traditional midway point of the season, and Value Picks has already alerted you to early-season bargains like Adam LaRoche, Chris Davis, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Carpenter, and Todd Frazier. As the teams meet their own midway points and decide on their near- and long-term futures, we could see more high-profile call-ups like the departing Anthony Rizzo or trades like the one that brought Jim Thome back to the American League. Stay tuned to Value Picks for all the latest developments to keep your fantasy team ahead of the pack!
If Emilio Bonifacio can't hit for power, why are pitchers walking him so often?
On Wednesday, Albert PujolsEmilio Bonifacio finally got his first extra-base hit of the season. It was his 138th plate appearance, which is fortunate, in that it kept him from matching Juan Pierre (144 plate appearances, 2010) for the longest such streak to start a season during this century.
Reporter: Did you know you just matched a record set by Pierre?
Bonifacio: Wow! Awesome!
Bonifacio: Oh, Juan Pierre?
Bonifacio: Oh ok
Bonifacio: This is a trick, right?
Bonifacio: Juan Pierre.
On teaching patience, a nice old lady and a hilarious inning to a near-gem.
CHICAGO—One-four-four-five-four-one. No, that's not a Tommy Tutone update, it's the game-by-game run totals for the Cubs in their first six outings of the season. They broke out with eight runs off Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke on Thursday, but questions still abound about Chicago's offense.
How to get through the season's first month without panicking.
Albert Pujols is on pace to hit into 486 double plays in 2011. This would shatter the record of 36 double plays that Jim Rice grounded into in 1984. Meanwhile, Robinson Cano is going to have problems hitting over .300 again, as he is on pace to strike out 324 times this season.
To be patient is to endure, but should your team endure this outfielder's patience?
Brett Gardner has a plan. It’s a simple one, and it was rather effective for him in 2010. The plan is this: he waits until he gets a pitch to hit. Hey, I told you it was simple. Last year he swung at the first pitch he saw in just seven percent of all plate appearances. No batter in baseball watched the first pitch go by more often than Gardner. The top five in that regard, as well as the league average that Gardner was miles away from, are below: