We are four days away from Opening Day and one of the more intriguing position battles still undecided is who will start in RF for the New York Yankees.
This is where we are right now and it has the Yankee fan base on fire. Most if not all would like to see the youngster Aaron Judge get the nod over Aaron Hicks and cement himself in RF for years to come.
Judge has surely done enough this spring to earn that spot batting .327 with 3 HR and 5 RBI. He also has lowered his strikeout rate from 44% in 2016 to 22% in his 55 spring AB’s. All positive signs for the 24-year-old who appears to be ready to make the jump from AAA.
Hicks has also had a decent spring batting .275 with 3 HR and 7 RBI over 51 AB’s. So statistically there is not much there that separates the two. What does separate the two though is potential. Hicks has hit double digit HR’s once in his career. He has also hit over .220 once in his career. We know what we are going to get with Hicks.
Judge, the Yankees #4 prospect, screams of potential. In 3 minor league seasons, he has posted 20 or more HR every year. He’s had a growing strikeout rate, but seems to have made adjustments going into this season.
So what is it that has manager Joe Girardi thinking about sending him to AAA? Defense? Hicks is the better defender with a career .995 fielding %. Judge on the other hand sits at .974% which is below the league average. I doubt it.
We could be a looking at a similar situation as Kris Bryant in 2015. A players service time doesn’t start for a team unless they are on the 25-man roster for 172 days. With the season ending October 1st, that day would be April 13th, meaning we could see Judge sometime after that.
This looks like the most likely scenario to me and would make the most sense for the Yankees. So look for Judge to begin the season in AAA and be brought up some time in mid to late April.