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Aaron Hicks' injury makes us remember Jacoby Ellsbury

Rob Bradford
October 06, 2018 - 11:14 am

When Aaron Hicks walked off the field in the fourth inning with a hamstring injury it wasn't any mystery who the Yankees would be replacing him with. That would be Brett Gardner.

But it did make one wonder whatever happened to be the guy Hicks took the job from in the first place, Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ellsbury is, of course, nowhere to be found during this American League Division Series, recovering from surgery on his torn hip labrum (the same injury that derailed Mike Lowell's career). He still has three more seasons after this one on what is a seven-year, $153 million contract. (One major league source said the Yankees had actually taken away Ellsbury's parking spot at Yankee Stadium for this season.)

The Hicks injury did a few things ...

1. It reminded us of what a luxury Ellsbury would have been for the Yankees if healthy.

New York hit on the acquisition of Aaron Hicks heading into 2016 season, but it was a move that seemed to simply serve as insurance for Ellsbury. The former Red Sox had a decent year in his first year as a Yankee, hitting .271 with 16 homers and 39 stolen bases in 149 games. And in '16, Hicks first season with the Yanks, Ellsbury actually played 148 games.

But the injuries started mounting for Ellsbury in 2017, limiting him to 111 games while Hicks was starting to prove himself as an everyday player. He didn't play in a single game this season.

2. It reminded us of Hicks' importance.

This has been one of the Yankees' most consistent players, totaling a .833 OPS to go along with 27 homers. His presence between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton is an important one.

3. Brett Gardner is a big drop off.

The lefty hitter has been relegated to a part-time player thanks to the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen and the emergence of Hicks. He finished the regular season with just a .236 batting average and .690 OPS. Gardner in no way represents the kind of presence Hicks may be leaving behind. (As @Dlazi points out on Twitter, one alternative may be to start Neil Walker at designated hitter and play Stanton in the outfield.)

Related: WFAN: Aaron Hicks exits with hamstring tightness