Should Aaron Hicks or Jacoby Ellsbury start in center field in the Wild Card game?

The Yankees outfield has had very great success in 2017. With Brett Gardner covering left field and Aaron Judge doing what he does in right field, that has left center field open. Two players have platooned the position all year due to injuries to their counterpart and each of them have seen success in 2017. The two players are Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom have seen injuries in the 2017 season but both have also seen great success when they have had a chance to play. With Ervin Santana pitching for the Twins in the Wild Card game, Joe Girardi has a serious question to address in the starting lineup. If they lose, its over. If they win, he can decide who to put out there for the rest of the postseason but they have to beat Santana and the Twins first. Lets see how Hicks and Ellsbury match up.
Photo Credit: AP

Aaron Hicks:
Starting with Hicks, the 28-year-old (whose birthday is today actually) hit to a respectable .266/.372/.475 slash line with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs in just 301 at bats this season. Hicks, who is said to be a better hitter from the left side, since he’s a switch hitter, has had some trouble from that side this year. Hicks is only batting .240 vs. right handers this year.

Looking more in depth, Hicks is also only batting .248 in home games where the wild card will take place this year. However, 12 of his 15 home runs this year have come at Yankee Stadium, and all 15 of his home runs have come during a night game, with the Wild Card game set to start at 8:00 PM ET. As for his defense, Hicks will be a more than formidable force running balls down defensively. With his heroic catch that saved a grand slam a week ago, he has shown improvement in every aspect, and he has always had a cannon for an arm. Hicks is a great player to have on any team.

Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri | Getty Images

Jacoby Ellsbury:
Then there is Ellsbury who has got a lot of hate due to his injuries throughout his career that has placed him on the DL a number of times. However, as of late Ellsbury has been one of the hottest hitters on the Yankees. Overall this season, he has batted .264/.348/.402 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs in just 356 at-bats this season.

Being one of the hottest hitters this past month has brought Ellsbury back into the question for the starting job. In September alone, he batted .337 in 86 at-bats. When it comes to batting against right-handers in 2017, Ellsbury is batting .274 with five of his seven home runs coming against right-handers. Ellsbury is batting .279 in home games this season while he is only batting .255 during night games. His defense is sub par as his throwing arm is average but he makes up with it with his speed. He can track down any ball that is hit in the gaps, and he does have postseason experience to go build his resume to start this game.

Who should start?
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there is only one of the two that really should start this postseason and that is Aaron Hicks. Hicks has been everything but extraordinary in the outfield and his bat has produced when it needed too. Even though Hicks has never played in the postseason, he has shown that he can perform at a big stage. With his ability to hit home runs from the left side into the short porch, there isn’t a doubt that he should start this postseason.

With that, Ellsbury will be a great pinch runner to have coming off the bench late in the game if needed. He is one of the best when it comes to stealing bases. In the playoffs, a team needs to have that one guy to come off the bench and steal a base in a high-pressure situation. Everyone needs that guy and Ellsbury is a team player that would do whatever it takes to win. Hicks can be streaky but he has the ability to come through when it matters and that is why he should start in the Wild Card game. 

Article by: Cameron Hauze


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