Considered the best arm on the team, the right fielder is still the most underestimated defensive player on the diamond. He can also be one of the most exciting players to watch, particularly when the corner outfielder runs down a line drive and guns down a base runner headed home. Yet, the position is wide open this spring and the winner will be the person who performs at his finest.
“The two front-runners for the starting job are Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, two young players with immense upside, but have yet to realize their full potential in the Majors. The Yankees are also flush with depth at the outfield position, with guys like Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin able to man right field, not to mention prospects like Dustin Fowler and Clint Frazier who are also knocking on the door,” reports the YES Network. Let’s take a closer look at the two Aarons and how they fare as the next best right fielder for the New York Yankees.
Aaron Judge: Many feel he just has not grown into his lanky body and others think he is as overrated as a Phil Hughes, but at 6’7″, Judge is facing the opportunity of a lifetime. Yet, he has to perform in order to realize success, otherwise, he just will not make it in the minor leagues let alone the majors. According to NJ.com, “Judge had a rough debut in the majors last year. The highlight came when he homered in his first career at-bat. He finished with four homers and 10 RBI and a .179 batting average in 27 games.”
ESPN prospect analyst Keith Law says that Judge “could have a big impact in 2017.” ”Judge struggled with contact in his big league debut last year, striking out in more than 40 percent of his plate appearances. I expect him to take some time to bring that down this year, but that’s been his history with each promotion in pro ball. Judge is a giant, at 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, so his strike zone is just as big, but he has enormous raw power and is an above-average right fielder. As long as the contact he makes continues to be hard contact, he’ll have value even if he’s among the league leaders in Ks.” Judge is humble and I like that. He knows he has to come up with the winning strategy to be impactful and earn a spot on the team. “You just never want to get comfortable, to be honest. You want to keep going in there, having fun. You’ve got to win a point and try to win a job.” Time will tell along with the numbers.
Aaron Hicks: After playing 123 games last season, Hicks put up okay numbers. He hit eight home runs and knocked in 31 RBIs. Okay numbers, not terrible, not great but not enough to be a standout on their own. He has to ramp it up this spring and truly contend for a position that is wide open.
According to the NY Post, “To calm the panic-button crowd, Judge needs to make more contact under the palm trees. If he doesn’t, Aaron Hicks could take the right field job away and reduce Judge to a Triple-A player. And the switch-hitting Hicks batted .217 in his Yankees debut.”
To be honest, if the Yankees can strategize on how to get the most out of Judge, I think Hicks is reduced to a rotating or bench player. According to the Post, “We’re going to figure out exactly what we think is wrong,” Steinbrenner said. “My expectations are he’s going to be my starting right fielder this year. That’s a big deal and a big opportunity. I know he’s going to make the most of it.”
It is an interesting storyline to have but keep in mind if neither of these guys perform, we have a wait list of guys who are more than capable of doing the job well. Not a bad back up plan to have!
BYB Managing Editor