June 6, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) hits a two-run home run in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, right) during the seventh inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trade in the offing: Can Brandon Hicks suffice?

With Marco Scutaro effectively vanishing into thin air, it was ultimately up to non-roster-invitee, Brandon Hicks, to become the San Francisco Giants’ everyday second baseman. Despite filling in admirably, contributing both offense and defense, his numbers are starting to massively decrease.  With the trade deadline fast approaching, second basemen like Chase Utley and Daniel Murphy have been linked to the Giants. But, do we really need to trade? Or can Hicks suffice?

Hicks and Crawford have combined for the most runs batted in, in the eighth spot, and the second most in the seventh spot, and, hence, have been very productive. Hicks has knocked in 22 runs along with eight home runs. Rather impressive, yes. However, he does also own an interesting .182/.300/.364 slashline with an overall OPS of 663. Naturally, his batting average jumps out, and rightly so. No major league player, regardless of what they contribute should ever be batting below .200 on the 11th of June.

His OPS ranks 18th among all second baseman in the major leagues now and his batting average is second last to only Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres who is batting .162. Hicks’ OBP currently ranks 16th among all second baseman, he has the second most strikeouts yet the third most walks among all second baseman. Rather puzzling stats.

In terms of fielding, his .981 fielding percentage ranks 17th in the major leagues for second baseman, yet, his UZR of 1.4 is currently the seventh best of any second baseman. So, what can we draw from this comparison to other second baseman? Quintessentially, Hicks is doing some things well, others not so well, in simple terms. He has been striking out too much, thus the poor batting average, but has been taking walks, hence the solid OBP. He has been making some fantastic plays on defense, but has committed a few too many errors.

In terms of plate discipline, Hicks still puzzles me. He lays off out pitches outside the zone a terrific 74% of the time, and swings at pitches inside the zone 75% of the time. Again, essentially, despite seeing the ball very well, Hicks is really struggling to make contact. Overall, all considered, Hicks can suffice. Providing he makes a little more contact and cuts out some errors on defense, he could be a great second baseman. Could Utley or Murphy improve us any?

Yes. The answer is very simple. Minus walks and homers, Utley is better than Hicks in almost every category. In his last 162 games, Murphy owns some nice numbers. He has a .294 average – 112 points higher than Brandon – a .340 OBP, 35 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 74 runs batted in. Bottom line – both Murphy and Utley would improve the Giants copious amounts.

Utley is under contractual control until 2018 – earliest free agent in 2016, with a $15-million option for the three season after. He is 35, however. Given the Phillies consistent struggles and massive payroll, the Giants could strike a nice trade. Murphy on the other hand is arbitration eligible this offseason, and can be a free agent after the 2016 season, but he is only 29.

With Kyle Cricks‘ name still highly coveted despite the ongoing issues with his control, he could be a beautiful trade bait. Call me crazy, but there has been talk of Crick becoming a reliever down the line, trade ‘im while his stock value is very high is what I say. Regardless of whether Utley or Murphy arrive in the Bay, a move for either one of them could potentially be a world series winning move.

 

 

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