The last time outfielder Aaron Hicks was an above-average hitter (going by OPS+, where 100 is league average), was the 2020 season. He had an OPS of .793 for the New York Yankees that year, which was 22 percent above league average. But his OPS since the 2021 season is .625, and that is 22 percent below the league norm.
He comes to Baltimore to try and help offset the loss of center fielder Cedric Mullins, on the injured list with a right groin strain.
Speaking to O’s media for the first time today, Hicks discussed his fall off at-bat since the 2021 season.
“It’s been rough, you know what I mean? Felt like I’ve had some good games here and then some bad games. Just about getting into a rhythm for me. Hopefully I get the opportunity to play every single day while Mullins is out and kind of get going to be able to solidify a spot,” he said.
“I’m excited to be here. It’s an exciting young team and excited to help them win. They are definitely young and they’re exciting. They come to play every single day.
“There is no replacing (Mullins). He’s a young player that has already gotten himself a Silver Slugger and an All-Star appearance. He’s doing pretty good. For me, it’s just going out to try and help the team win. Can’t try to replace him, you’ve just got to play your game and see how it goes.”
Hicks was batting .188/.263/.261/.524 this year in 28 games with New York with one homer and five RBIs when he was designated for assignment and then released.
What can he bring to the Orioles?
“Obviously I’m a veteran so that is a little something different. Just kind of get to know them and help them any way I can. Also go out there and do my thing and, you know, try to produce for the team.
“I’m pretty comfortable here. Played a lot of games in center here, some in left, so I’m pretty comfortable with the ballpark.”
Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the team had some level of interest in Hicks before the Mullins injury and that obviously became escalated. After his DFA May 20, Hicks was awaiting a second chance.
“I was at home kind of watching different teams and seeing what opportunities would open up and where I would fit. Obviously with the injury to Mullins, the opportunity came up quicker than I thought. Just excited to get going,” he said.
From the other dugout, Hicks has played against O’s teams that lost 108 or more games three times between 2018 and 2021. Now, he joins a Baltimore team with the third-best record in MLB.
“I mean, it just seems like they were rebuilding into a solid team that you know, the lineup, you can tell from top to bottom, comes to play every single day. I think that is the most we’ve seen, with the young players coming in, the (Ryan) Mountcastles, the young catcher over here, Adley (Rutschman), a lot of pieces around this team that help them win games," he said.
Before he was cut loose by New York, Hicks had actually gone 6-for-17 with a homer and four RBIs over his previous seven games. It was not enough to keep him a Yankee, a team he had played with since 2016.
“Yeah, actually felt like I was starting to get something going. Think two days before I got released I just went 3-for-4, so was starting to get going and felt good at the plate. It’s a business so, nothing you can do about it," said Hicks.