What's gotten into Aaron Hicks?


Remember April?

For Twins fans, they probably wish they could go back.

The squad was 11-12, only three games out of first in the central, and 7-5 in their last 12 games.

Now Minnesota is 37-50, 11 games back of Detroit, and they're 2-10 in their last 12.

For Aaron Hicks, it's the opposite, he probably wishes he could forget the first month of the year.

Not to bring up painful memories, but he started the year 2-49, hitting a wretched .041, and striking out 20 times in those 49 ABs.

Now, despite an 0-2 performance last night out of the eight spot, he's hitting .370 since his return from the disabled list and the long road to the Mendoza line is complete, with Hicks currently hitting .203.

How has he raised his batting average 162 points in the 50 games he's played since he reached rock bottom April 21?

It actually looks quite simple when you break down the splits.

Hicks was 2-43 in the leadoff spot and has not hit there since April 13. All 20 of those strike outs mentioned earlier during his 2-49 streak in the beginning of the year came from the leadoff spot.

The Twins had an off day on the 14th, and manager Ron Gardenhire didn't start Hicks the 15th, he only saw a late game at bat after coming on for defensive purposes in the eighth.

He walked in that appearance, and the next day was in the 8th spot in the order.

The reclamation project could begin.

Hicks walked eight times in the six games following his last contest in the leadoff spot, after walking just twice in the first ten games of the season. Strike outs were also down, only two in that six game stretch, 20 in the first ten games of the year.

Confidence started to build and it was a slow crawl up the ladder, only four multi-hit games entering his trip to the disabled list June 11 with a strained left hamstring.

It was still progress, pounding out plenty of one-hit games. Hitting lower in the order was working, as he hasn't seen the top half of the lineup since he was dropped from the leadoff spot.

The slow but steady crawl thru the first three months of the season is paying off now, with three multi-hit games since returning from the DL, and confidence at an all-time high.

His numbers outside of being in the leadoff spot? Still not sparkling, but very encouraging.

Hicks has 174 at bats under his belt outside the leadoff spot, and he is hitting .241 with seven home runs, 29 runs scored, 18 RBI, 17 BBs and six stolen bases.

It seems specifically the eight spot is working for Hicks, hitting .236 in 127 ABs, 14 extra base hits (compared to just five anywhere else in the lineup), an on-base percentage of .315, and 14 RBI.

Perhaps leading off in his first big league season was just too much pressure, maybe he wasn't ready, and maybe he still isn't prepared to lead off, and that's fine.

Gardy has him farther down in the order with less pressure and Hicks is exhibiting more patience. Perhaps this was the move that has us on the road to seeing the Aaron Hicks we heard about for so many years.

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