No, the 30-30 Club is not the lounge Jay-Z referenced in ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder.’ That’s the 40/40 Club. (Which, by the way, is a small baseball fraternity, but that’s another conversation.)
Such a thought, even without knowing his specific hope, certainly sounds surprising, especially given the veteran outfielder’s injury history. How could he achieve something that three of the greatest players in franchise history never accomplished?
Well, at least no one can accuse Hicks of aiming low ahead of his seventh season with the Bronx Bombers.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks hopes to join the 30-30 club this season
If you’re unfamiliar with the 30-30 club, it’s fairly simple. A select group of players, including National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielders Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, have hit at least 30 home runs and stolen at least 30 bases in the same season. Entering the 2022 season, 43 total players — five of whom are in the 500 home run club — are in the exclusive group.
Baseball legends Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, and Vladimir Guerrero all had multiple seasons where they topped 30 in each category. After no players achieved the feat from 2013-17, four did so between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullens was the only player to reach the 30-30 club in 2021 after no players did so during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Hicks, who hasn’t played a full season since 2018 and is coming off wrist surgery, believes he’s next in line. While addressing why his approach at the plate hasn’t worked in recent seasons, the veteran outfielder and likely starting center fielder explained why he has the 30-30 club in sight.
“I wanted to hit the ball in the air and take my chances with that. Now, it’s like, I want to get more hits. I want to utilize my speed; I want to bunt more. The last time I did that all in one season was probably in 2017, and I almost went to an All-Star Game.”Aaron Hicks
Two Yankees have reached the 30-30 club. Outfielder Bobby Bonds, Barry’s father, did so in 1975, his lone year with the Bronx Bombers. Alfonso Soriano, then the team’s starting second baseman, achieved the feat in 2002 and 2003.
If Hicks reached his goal of hitting 30 homers and stealing 30 bases, the 32-year-old would be the oldest player in Yankees history to join the club. Although the switch-hitter doesn’t turn 33 until Oct. 2, he’d be guaranteed to become the oldest Yankee in the 30-30 club regardless.
Hicks is certainly dreaming big, considering his history of injuries
In theory, the simplest way to join the 30-30 clubs is to hit six home runs and steal six bases per month. The player in question would have at least 30 of each by Sept. 1 in a typical year and, this year, would either be there or extremely close. For example, if Hicks did five and five each month, he’d likely near the 30-30 group within the regular season’s final week or two.
There’s only one problem: Hicks needs to play in order to have a chance at doing 10 and 10, much less 30 and 30.
Although Hicks played 54 of a possible 60 games in 2020, he only saw action in 59 of a potential 162 outings the year before. In fairness, his 12 home runs in those 59 games put him on pace for his first career 30-home run season, so he had the power aspect working in his favor. As for last year, he smashed four home runs in 32 games, which would have come out to roughly 20 homers in a full season.
But, all of those are estimates based on him staying healthy. With respect to Hicks, he only participated in at least 100 games twice in his first five non-pandemic affected seasons with the Yankees. There is no reason to believe he won’t find himself on the injured list at some point this summer, especially if his wrist gives him lingering issues.
So, how realistic are Hicks’ chances of joining the 30-30 club?
As of publication, Baseball Reference projected Hicks would hit .223 with 11 home runs and three stolen bases in 320 plate appearances. That is, shall we say, not ideal if he wants to join the 30-30 club. Hicks only has 55 stolen bases to his name in nine seasons, and he’s topped double-digit stolen bases only three times in that span.
Hicks’ career-high in stolen bases? 13, a number he reached in 2015, his final season with the Minnesota Twins. Again, not ideal.
Of course, Hicks could join the 30-30 club, but the odds are against it. He’s an injury-prone outfielder who looked terrible in limited action last year and is entering his age-32 season. Very rarely do players, especially those entering their 10th big-league campaign, take the type of jump Hicks hopes to achieve at this stage in his career. Maybe a hitter who averages 26-28 home runs will finally top 30, or a veteran pitcher who averages 180 strikeouts per season will get to 200. Typically, though, those hitters don’t explode for 50 homers, and those pitchers don’t tally 320 punchouts, at 32 years old.
Yankees fans likely won’t complain about Hicks dreaming big, though. They’ll save their bellyaching and calls to WFAN for when the switch-hitting outfielder finds himself hitting under .200 on Memorial Day.