Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball Debates: A new series of posts that raise debatable questions about the wide world of baseball. Each post will pose a question, argue both sides of the debate and then let you, the reader, have the final say. You can find the previous installments here: Fences, Saves, Coaches, Kurt Suzuki and MLB Season. Let’s get to it!
Welcome back to another installment of Baseball Debates! With Minnesota Twins players showing up to Spring Training as you read this, the topic of this week’s debate is Aaron Hicks. No one needs to be reminded of Hicks’ dreadful rookie season, but with a new year around the corner, a decision needs to be made about where Hicks will play in the Twins organization. Hicks is ready to forget the past and be a valuable contributor to the Twins and some see him as one of the more important players for 2014. He’s young and has all of the tools but he needs a bounce back year to prove he can stick with the Twins. So now Puckett’s Pond is asking, Should Aaron Hicks Be the Starting Center Fielder?
- Hicks is a five-tool player who will turn just 24 years old in 2014. If he can put all of his skills together into a complete package he will be an incredible asset for over half a decade (Free Agent in 2020). Hicks has always been slow to adjust to a new level of competition so he just needs more time as a Twin. Giving him the starting job, without fear of getting replaced, lets him develop according to his own natural schedule.
- Even though he couldn’t hit much of anything in 2013, Hicks still gave the Twins great defense in centerfield. Some of his spectacular catches might have been a result of him taking a bad route and making a desperation dive but he still made the outfield seem smaller. The Twins 2014 corner outfielders are nothing to write home about defensively so the team needs Hicks’ speed to cover more ground. More experience will make him a better fielder too, a devastating trait when he eventually teams up with Byron Buxton in the outfield.
- Hicks has some pop in his bat that can only become more consistent as he plays more in the MLB. 41% of his hits last year were for extra bases so imagine what he could do if he raised his overall hit level and kept the same extra base hit ratio (for comparisons’ sake – 2013 Joe Mauer had 32% and Oswaldo Arcia had 38%).
- Hicks is head and shoulders above Alex Presley in terms of excitement value, a fact that becomes more important to fans in another Twins rebuilding year. If the team isn’t going to win consistently, then fans will want good entertainment value as a replacement. In 2013, Hicks made plenty of highlight reel catches and sometimes directly converted that defensive adrenaline with a bomb when he got up to bat. How much more exciting can you get?
- Alex Presley deserves to start in centerfield because he was the player who was actually with the team in September. Who’s batting line would you rather have? Hicks’ ugly .192/.259/.338 or Presley’s solid .276/.313/.373?
- Hicks should start in Triple A because his 2013 year obviously showed that he was overmatched in the MLB after making the jump from Double A. He needs time at each level to adapt to the level of competition and keeping him in the MLB and watching him struggle might ruin his confidence and any chance of him contributing to any future Minnesota Twins team.
- Hicks has a great arm but actually isn’t that great in terms of range and fielding effectiveness. In 2013, he missed quite a few very makeable plays that essentially cancelled out his great catches.
- The 2014 season should be about winning games and the Twins should start whichever players give them the best chance at doing that. Alex Presley isn’t flashy but he’ll give the Twins more dependable results at the plate and acceptable defense while the team waits for Buxton to be MLB ready.
Now it’s your turn to vote! Leave a comment to support your decision or to let me know if I missed any important supporting or opposing points!