Monday, June 17, 2013

Whither Aaron Hicks?

Here's a tangent not taken in the composition of  this week's Monday print column, which was devoted to the happy thought that Bryon Buxton might reach the majors as early as the middle of next season -- the Mike Trout timeline, if you will -- the tangent being, what would that mean for Aaron Hicks?

Hicks, currently nursing a bad hamstring on the disabled list, has had an undeniably rough go of a rookie year. His batting average remains well south of the Mendoza Line, and the walks and power have not been strong enough to overcome that.  The Twins have been patient with him in part because of a lack of perceived options in center field, but if Buxton is on the Trout timeline, that lack will soon be filled.

I think Hicks is/will be a better hitter than he's shown so far, that he'll eventually establish himself at an offensive level high enough to be a regular center fielder. I don't know that he's going to hit enough to justify being a regular corner outfielder.

It is at the least an interesting field of speculation, the makeup of the future Twins outfield. Oswaldo Arcia in one outfield corner, Buxton in center ... and maybe Hicks in the other corner. Arcia isn't much of a gloveman, but with Buxton and Hicks out there, Arcia wouldn't have to cover a lot of ground.

But for that to happen, Hicks is gonna have to hit. And I now think he has less time to do so than everybody thought a few weeks ago.


More on Buxton compared to Trout: the Cedar Rapids paper provides this stat matchup for the two outfielders through 64 games with the Kernels. (Trout, as noted in the print column linked to above, played 81 games with Cedar Rapids in 2011; Buxton has 64 and may not get to 65. The Midwest League all-star game is Tuesday, and speculation has had him moving on to Fort Myers after that.)

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