Monday, June 23, 2014

Aaron Hicks is a switch-hitter again

Aaron Hicks has changed his mind again
about whether he's a switch-hitter.
A bit less than a month ago, Aaron Hicks decided to abandon switch hitting.

This weekend, he decided to resume switch hitting.

If May's decision to become a full-time right-handed hitter signaled a career crisis (as I said at the time) , the June change of heart deepened it.

For the record, the Twins supported Hicks in May, and they supported his decision this weekend. But they hinted pretty strongly that their patience with this indecisiveness is wearing thin.

My sense on this: Hicks made his May decision out of frustration. But the decision went against something that is integral to his self-identity as a baseball player. For better or worse, Hicks is a switch hitter, just as he throws right-handed. The question is: Is he a good enough switch-hitter to play outfield in the major leagues? The evidence to date says he isn't. But it's far from certain that he would be if he strictly hit right-handed. 

Terry Ryan said Sunday that Hicks remains, at least until Byron Buxton does something in the upper levels of the minors, the best center fielder in the organization. To which I say: Eddie Rosario. I don't know if Rosario is ready for the majors, but I have come to believe he's got a better chance to be a regular outfielder than Hicks does. (Neither is a long-term centerfielder in an organization with Buxton.)

Even more, I think that if Hicks is to be a regular outfielder, he'll need more time in the minors working on his hitting than his current disabled list-rehab assignment will allow. Bringing Hicks back to the bigs this year, my view, puts him on a track to become a Sam Fuld-type bench player. Which, to be sure, may be the ultimate result even if they keep Hicks in the minors.

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