Fan base reaction to Volpe and Hicks: Does it pass the sniff test?
In news that surprises no one, Yankees’ fans have been tough on newcomer Anthony Volpe and veteran Aaron Hicks. A quick gander at their baseball reference pages reveals the reason behind the disappointment. Quite simply, both players have underperformed in the early season.
Anthony Volpe is hitting .143/.273/.214/.487 with one triple and three stolen bases, while striking out 11 times. Aaron Hicks is hitting .091/.167/.091/.258 with a single and four strikeouts in four games. Volpe has not committed an error yet but there have been several plays he should have made that he didn’t. Hicks has been exactly what you’d expect from him in the field.
Is the criticism of the fans justified? In one case no, and in the other yes.
A rookie shortstop nine games into his career, under the microscope of New York City, debuting at the age of 21 with just 21 games under his belt is beyond reproach at this stage. To be able to get to this point was an impressive feat. With all the challenges Volpe has in front of him at the moment, it makes very little sense for the fan base to call for his demotion. Volpe is a talented young ballplayer who plays with fire and intensity. Throughout his journey in the minor leagues, he has shown he can adjust.
Volpe deserves half a season to make an adjustment. Kiner-Falefa and Hicks had much more than that.
Contrast that to Aaron Hicks, who hasn’t been able to successfully make an adjustment since 2018. He showed a lack of hustle late in the 2022 season. He complained to the media about playing time rather than looking within for solutions. Now, after the Yankees couldn’t find a trade partner for him this offseason, he continues to make himself even less tradeable. The performance has not improved so far, and worse yet he has resumed his complaining.
Look around on the Yankees’ roster and you’ll find several players who have struggled and been booed by Yankees’ fans. Judge and Stanton can tell you a thing or two about that. They can also tell you the best way to respond. Accept responsibility for your part in it and focus on improvement. Side with the fans and say you would boo too. It’s not hard to figure out. Fans won’t hate you for long if you take that approach.
It’s not Aaron Hicks’ fault the Yankees gave him a 7-year, $70 million contract. Anyone would have done the same. At the end of the day though, you must realize that this is not all about you. Yankees fans care about one thing, winning. If you’re not helping the team win, they will boo. If you’re not helping the team and then make excuses and complain to the media, they will boo you straight out of town. Hicks is now at this phase of the fans’ ire.
Yankees’ fans can be unreasonable and obnoxious. That’s a fact. You need not look further than their reaction to Volpe’s start to see that. On the other hand, their response to Aaron Hicks is anything but unreasonable. Demanding? Sure, but Aaron Hicks and everyone else in the world knew that back in 2018 when he signed that contract. The only hope, which I’m sure Hicks shares at this point, is that he can do something to improve his trade value so the Yankees can finally move him. In 2023, he has thus far only done more to damage it with both his bat and his mouth.