5 Reasons Why Aaron Hicks Will Win the American League Rookie of the Year in 2013
5 Reasons Why Aaron Hicks Will be the American League Rookie of the Year in 2013
Following a tumultuous off-season that saw the Minnesota Twins trade away starting centerfielder Denard Span and another starting outfielder in Ben Revere—who also happened to be the backup to Span in center—the Twins entered the 2013 spring training with a lot of questions about the future of their center fielder. Fear not Twins fans, the answer has revealed itself loud and clear and that answer is Aaron Hicks.
Not only has Hicks been hitting the ball extremely well—a .318 batting average in 22 at-bats with one HR and six RBI in six games entering play today—but he has showcased his talents defensively and has demonstrated that he belongs at the big league level as the starting center fielder come opening day for the Twins. What spring training has already shown is that Hicks is poised to have a big debut season for the Twins and is ready to contribute from opening day as their leadoff hitter. He has conducted himself like a veteran throughout spring training and has prepared himself to succeed this season and seize the opportunity in front of him.
Hicks is clearly the best option the Twins have in center field, but also may be one of their most talented players. I would not be shocked to see Hicks hit .310 with 20 HR and 80 RBI for the Twins this season. Additionally, I am confident enough in him that I am willing to predict with confidence that he will win the American League Rookie of the Year in 2013. Why am I so confident in such a prediction? Read on to reveal the five reasons why I believe Hicks will win the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013.
5. Playing Time
By earning the starting centerfield and leadoff job out of spring training, Hicks will put himself in a position to log 150 or more games this season. With those bountiful opportunities, he should be able to garner enough experience and at-bats to hone his skills at the big league level and make any necessary adjustments needed to succeed. Hicks will likely face his fair share of adversity during his rookie season, but his character and work ethic will allow him to make the necessary adjustments to be successful with the Minnesota Twins in the majors. With there being no legitimate option behind him, he will be able to weather any struggles and overcome any doubts while on his way to putting up AL Rookie of the Year in 2013.
4. Target Field
Hicks will be playing his first season—the first of many—in Target Field, which is known as a “pitcher’s park” but also provides ample opportunities to use the spacious field as an offensive weapon. Target Field measures 377 feet and 367 feet to the power alleys and 404 feet to dead center. In between those measurements is a lot of space that contact hitters can use to their advantage. Hicks possesses great speed and any hit to a gap will surely be an extra base hit. With his ability to also hit for power, the left-handed hitter Hicks could also use the short homerun porch in left field—328 feet—to put up solid power numbers as well. All in all, Target Field will be a paradise for a player of his skill set.
3. Tom Brunansky
In July 2010, the Minnesota Twins hired Tom Brunansky as their hitting coach for the rookie league team in Fort Myers. After that season, he rose to Double-A New Britain. For the 2012 season, he moved up to Triple-A Rochester, where he worked closely with Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier, all of whom are poised to secure permanent jobs in the big leagues with the Twins. Hicks is going to have one of the most underrated hitting instructors in all of baseball working with him on a close, everyday basis, which will help him grow as a hitter and hone his approach at the plate. Brunansky has shown he can improve player’s ability to succeed as hitters and also hone their approaches as hitters at the plate. If you look at the job he did with Parmelee and Plouffe alone, you can see the type of effect he can have. With the opportunity to work with a talented player like Hicks, there is no telling what kind of effect Brunansky can have. His mentorship will help Hicks continue to evolve as a hitter as the season progresses.
2. No Repeat of Mike Trout or Bryce Harper
I know the first prospects in the American League that skeptics will point to is Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar as the type of players who could be called up and have Mike Trout type production. But in both cases, circumstances will prevent them from getting the opportunities to excel like Hicks will. Myers will be playing in the ultra-competitive AL East, where he will face some of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. There are also indications that he will be kept in the minors until at least June to preserve another year of arbitration eligibility, but as Trout displayed last year, you don’t necessarily need a full year to put up crazy numbers. At any rate, Myers’ situation and common opponents will prevent him from achieving the statistics and impact that I believe Hicks will have. Profar, on the other hand,has Elvis Andrus playing ahead of him with the Texas Rangers and there are no indications that he will be moved, so the only opportunity Profar will have to play at the majors would be at second base. With all of that uncertainty surrounding the situation, I believe he is still a year away from getting a legitimate chance to demonstrate his immense talents on a consistent basis in the majors.
1. Hicks' Talent
Hicks has been classified as having “five-tool” type potential as he worked his way through the minor league system. A “five-tool” player excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability and fielding abilities. Seen as one of the fastest players in the organization, Hicks has the potential to steal 30 or more bases this season. With that speed, he will also be able to cover a lot of ground in the spacious Target Field while also demonstrating his strong arm from the outfield. He has the ability to hit for average and for power as he has posted a .271 career batting average with 34 career homeruns. I would tend to place Hicks as a legitimate four-tool type player instead of five, but people in the organization believe he can develop into a five-tool type player.
Any way you want to classify it, the bottom line is that Hicks is a talented player. Due to the circumstance of where he is playing, who he is playing with/against, the support system he has around him and the rookies that are entering the league this season, it is not too far of a stretch to believe that Hicks could win the AL Rookie of the Year. I may be drinking too much of the Minnesota Twins and Hicks Kool-Aid, but I firmly believe at the end of the season, Hicks will be in the running to bring home the AL Rookie of the Year.