Aaron Hicks is Aaron Boone’s handyman. He doesn’t fix leaks or mend fences, but he has plugged nearly any open hole in the Yankees’ lineup. It can be a different one every night.
Hicks has hit nearly everywhere in Boone’s lineup, making appearances at every spot but second — the position almost always occupied by Aaron Judge.
Hicks continued his torrid streak Tuesday night against the Braves, hitting a two-out, two-run home run to rightfield off lefthander Sean Newcomb in the first inning as the cleanup hitter. It was a 364-foot blast with an exit velocity of 100.7 mph, according to Statcast, and gave the Yankees a quick lead in their 8-5 victory at the Stadium.
It made Hicks the fifth player on the Yankees with at least 15 home runs, the most of any team in the majors. Aaron Judge (23), Giancarlo Stanton (20), Didi Gregorius (15) and Gleyber Torres (15) are the others.
Hicks, who went 1-for-3, walked and scored in the third inning before walking again in the sixth. In his last three games, he has six extra-base hits (four home runs, two doubles).
The switch hitter has been utilized in a variety of ways by Boone, depending on the matchup. Although it wasn’t the case Tuesday, Hicks generally leads off against lefthanders, with Brett Gardner either hitting ninth or receiving the day off.
Hicks has led off in 18 games and produced a slash line of .288/.349/.712 with nine home runs as the table-setter. On Sunday, David Price discovered firsthand that Hicks is a formidable — and atypical — leadoff man, as he hit two of his three home runs against the Red Sox lefthander.
Boone said Hicks is an underappreciated member of his potent lineup.
“He’s a really good player, and I think he gets lost in the shuffle a little bit,” the manager said. “Obviously, they talk a lot about Judge and Giancarlo and Didi and a lot of our young guys, but [Hicks is] just a steady player . . . Obviously, he’s really important to what we do.”
As the No. 6 hitter — the spot in which he’s hit most (28 times) — Hicks has five homers, 20 RBIs and a .364 on-base percentage.
The jack-of-all-trades has been an integral puzzle piece in Boone’s ever-changing lineup card. A number of factors led to his second start in the cleanup position, as injuries to Austin Romine (hamstring) and Torres (hip) thrust Kyle Higashioka and Neil Walker into the starting lineup.
But Hicks was up to the task. After all, he’s Boone’s handyman, and he’s got plenty of tools in his belt.