Aaron Hicks' Run-Saving Throw Last Night Was Historically Epic
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks made history last night.
But it almost didn't happen.
#Yankees: Brett Gardner scratched with a stiff neck. Castro hits second, Headley seventh, Hicks ninth.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 20, 2016
In fairness, it's no surprise that Hicks -- with a career slash line of .221/.301/.342, wOBA of .287, and wRC+ of 79 -- isn't an everyday starter for the Yankees.
In fact, he's played just four complete games all season, and he's entered seven games in the seventh inning or later.
It's a good thing he was in early for the Yankees last night.
With a 3-1 lead and one out in the top of the fourth inning, the Oakland Athletics' Yonder Alonso was up to bat with the bases loaded. He hit what probably should have been a sacrifice fly to score Danny Valencia from third base and extend Oakland's lead to three runs.
Aaron Hicks didn't let that happen.
— MLB (@MLB) April 21, 2016
What a throw indeed! But, hey, we've all seen guys get hosed down trying to score before, so what made this special?
— MLB (@MLB) April 21, 2016
That'll do it.
It really should come as no surprise, either.
Aaron Hicks made 2 throws in the top of the 4th... One was 98.6 MPH the other was 105.5 MPH. Might want to put him in the bump tonight.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 21, 2016
Hicks just has a cannon, but it hasn't always been used to benefit the Yanks.
However, his -2.3 Range Runs Saved is tied for 42nd.
Overall, his fielding -- as measured by FanGraphs' Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) -- is just better than the middle of the pack, as he's tied for 28th in UZR since 2015 among this group of outfielders. Per 150 games, he ties for 29th with Mike Trout.
And it only looks so nice because we're omitting his 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Among the 111 outfielders with at least 1,000 innings combined in 2013 and 2014, his -1 Defensive Runs Saved tied for 57th. His UZR of -10.9 ranked just 96th, and on a 150-game pace, his UZR (-9.8) ranked 93rd.
That doesn't mean he has no range or glove, though. Just check out this snare from May 2013.
And, given his improvement defensively since 2014, he deserves more than just a helmet tip from Carlos Gomez.
Since the start of 2015, Hicks has hauled in 50% of balls that should be caught 10 to 40% of the time, according to Inside Edge's Fielding Data, which ranks him 17th in the group of 67 players since 2015.
Further, he's reached 11.1% of potential hits that should be caught 1 to 10% of the time, 16th-best in the group.
Overall, though, his bat and early defensive struggles are why he's been just a 0.6 Wins Above Replacement player in his career, according to FanGraphs.
But, man, he's got an arm.