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In Part 7 of a 10-week series, I will be taking a look at the center field position from last year and how it could look going forward.
Center field was one of the few positions on the Yankees that did not have an injury problem during the 2020 season. Aaron Hicks commanded the spot for 50 games, starting in 48 of those. He committed two errors in the field, but was still able to cover ground and had three outfield assists. After all, he does have one of the best arms in all of baseball.
At the plate, there were not too many talking points. Hicks hit .225 with six home runs and 21 RBIs with an OPS of .793. One thing that he does manage to do well is work counts deep, as he walked 41 times in 211 plate appearances, nearly 20 percent of the time.
Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman also played several games in center field, but both players were discussed in last week’s article, so there is no need to cover them for the second week in a row.
Although he only played in one game last season, Estevan Florial may have a crucial role in the next several seasons. Hicks has had his share of injuries over the past few seasons and could spend some time on the IL at some point next season.
That’s where Florial comes in. If Hicks gets injured and the Yankees need to bring in another outfielder, Florial may get the call. He’s already dipped his foot into the major leagues and could be ready to get a legitimate shot at being a major part of the Yankee roster.
As for Hicks, expect him to be the everyday center fielder. He has five years left on his contract and is expected to give the Yankees plenty of games during that span, as long as he is healthy.
I am also predicting that he has an improved year at the plate, increasing his batting average and getting on base more often. I believe that he can have a higher percentage of walks to plate appearances than this past season.
His bat will continue to be vital in the lineup, as the Yankees are still dominated by right-handed bats. Being a switch-hitter makes him even more valuable, but being a left-handed batter will make him one of the few on the Yankees.