Yankees’ fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks playing like an All-Star

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CINCINNATI — Here is a question: Has a fourth outfielder ever started the All-Star Game?

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might not be that good, but it is not out of the question he could be picked for the team. He is hitting .342 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 73 at-bats. His OPS is 1.106. The question might be: Can he get enough at-bats to make it?

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What do you know? Cashman might have undersold Hicks. Hicks is playing like an All-Star and could end up in Miami in July. It would seem ridiculous if you hadn’t watched him every day.

Limited Mike Zunino Jersey Aaron Hicks Jersey, who is hitting .342 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 73 at-bats, is congratulated by after scoring against the Reds. Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesOn Monday, the Yankees whipped another opponent with a 10-4 beatdown of the . Hicks was not the star of the game, but he went 2-for-5 with a couple of runs scored. Ho-hum for him these days.

Mike Zunino Jersey #3 It was the Yankees’ sixth win in a row. Their 21-9 record is baseball’s best. It might not last, but their outfield is the best and deepest in the game right now.

This has left Yankees manager Joe Girardi with a great “problem.” Who does he start every day? On Monday, he gave perhaps the most exciting player in baseball, Aaron Judge, the night off. It didn’t matter.

continued his power surge with his sixth homer in nine games, while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. The $153 million man, , continued to play well, going 1-for-2 with three walks to raise his on-base percentage to .377. And Hicks did his thing, but, according to Girardi, he likely will have Wednesday off.

“Hicks continues to shine,” Girardi said. “Everyone is swinging the bat. It is a really good problem to have, and I know I’m sure guys don’t want to sit down, but I think over the long haul this will help every one of them, and I think that it will keep them fresh.”

As it turned out, the Yankees had no wrong answers for right field out of spring training. It came down to the rookie Judge and former big-time prospect Hicks. Judge had the edge because he was an up-and-coming talent and owner Hal Steinbrenner threw his endorsement behind the 6-foot-8, 282-pounder, who had struck out half of his 84 at-bats in 2016.

Hicks seemed like a long shot; the best thing he had going for him was that the roster makeup wasn’t decided by some reality show in which the fans got a vote. After his poor 2016, Hicks could lose a fan vote against Ruben Rivera, let alone the unknown jolly giant Judge.

Still, the Yankees went down to the last days of spring training before deciding to see if Judge could hit major league pitching. You might not have heard, but it turns out he can.

Hicks, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Twins, has not had as much publicity as Judge, but he has been just as good. He has stopped chasing pitches, avoiding swinging outside of the strike zone; his rate has gone from above 20 percent the past two years to just above 10 percent this year, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The balls he is putting in the air are finding spots, often over the wall. He is 8-for-18 (.444) on fly balls after batting just .141 and .151 in that category the past two years.

However you do the math, Hicks has been pretty unstoppable.

“The fact that, I guess, Hicks began the year as our fourth outfielder and he has played so well, it is hard to leave him out of the lineup,” Gardner said.

Yeah, it’s early, but it might be hard to leave him out of the American League All-Star lineup, as well.

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