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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: AARON HICKS THIS YEAR'S VERSION OF 2016 EDUARDO NUNEZ

Often times in fantasy baseball, a struggling prospect that comes to his initial team with a bunch of expectations falls flat on their face right out of the major league gate.  Whether it is the pressure to be a franchise savior or simply adjusting to the speed of the pro game, there are scores of big-name hitting and pitching prospects who have failed to come through performance-wise during the early phases of their careers.  Sometimes this results in some of these players being given up on by the team that originally drafted them, so profound is the disappointment.  However it is at this stage where the classic post-hype sleepers come into play and on many occasions, the "fresh start" angle also works to eventually unleash the talent that was always lying under the surface.  It is also here where some of the best fantasy baseball value plays can be had as we have seen on numerous occasions.  Such as San Francisco Giants shortstop Eduardo Nunez last season who; after failing to make it with the New York Yankees, broke out in a big way first with the Minnesota Twins last season before he moved West via July trade.  Joining Nunez with a Yankees post-hype link this season is outfielder Aaron Hicks who lost a spring training battle with Aaron Judge for the team's starting rightfield job but who now is challenging for a spot on the AL All-Star team.  With Jacoby Ellsbury out with a concussion and nowhere near returning, Hicks is now playing every day and showing why the Twins once made him a first round pick.  Going into Tuesday's games, Hicks as collected the following numbers:

.321
8 HR
31 RBI
30 R
7 SB

Looking at the numbers, Hicks' production is of the precious five category variety and speaks to what an awesome value he has been in fantasy baseball.  Hicks has always had burgeoning power and speed to burn and he is unleashing both skills fully this season.  The big problem with Hicks previously though was an inability to consistently hit and even in his initial foray with the Yanks in 2016, he put forth an awful .217 average which reinforced some Quad-A player talk.  Hicks stuck with it though and a big spring performance perhaps hinted at what was to come.

Digging into the numbers more, Hicks has really made strides with his hitting approach as he has cut his K/9 rate from last season's 18.8 to this year's 16.5.  Add to that a massive 16.5 BB/9 rate and Hicks has been an OBP machine and really helped to up his average.  A .346 BABIP is squarely in lucky territory but guys with Hicks' speed can beat the curve there at least somewhat.  The bottom line here though is that Hicks is starting to realize the potential that made him a first round pick and the Yankees will have an interesting decision to make when the fading Ellsbury returns.  Based on how he is playing, Hicks needs to be a daily starter and in fantasy baseball, he already is that type of player as the numbers bear out.


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