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The Season That Was: Aaron Hill

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I figured during the off season we'd take a closer look how the Jay players did this past season, and why not start with Aaron Hill. Going into the year it was hard to guess what sort of season Aaron would have. 2008 wasn't looking too good before the concussion put him out. 

As part of a community project we guessed that Hill would have 600 Plate Appearances and have a .335 OBP and a .435 SA. What did he actually do? 

2009 - Aaron Hill 158 682 103 195 37 0 36 108 42 98 6 2 .286 .330 .499

So we were well over 100 short on plate appearances, just 5 points high on the OBP but 64 points short on slugging. To be fair, who would have expected Hill to more than double his previous career high in homers. 

Fangraphs has him at a 4.3 WAR which would be worth $19.9 million so we got our money's worth out of him. He set career highs in just about every offensive category that matters, except for doubles and triples. He did have some bad luck on balls in play, having a .290 BABIP, so with a little luck his average couple of been a been better. He had a good line drive rate (19.6%). His percentage of homers per fly ball was a bit high (14.9%), but might be his new level of performance. Yeah, it would be nice if he would take a few more walks, but this is the type of batter he is and he does it well. 

His longest hit streak of the season was 13 games, back in May. 

He didn't have a large platoon split, .282/.328/.477 vs. RHP and .298/.335/.561 vs. LHP.

He had more power at home .271/.317/.536, but a better average on the road .299/.342/.465.

Hit hit well with RISP .299/.345/.481

Hitting by Month:

April        .365/.412/.567   5HR

May          307/.331/.480    7HR

June        .245/.294/.491   7HR

July          .235/.291/.461   5HR

August     .274/.292/.496  7HR

Sept/Oct  .287/.358/.500   5HR

Very few players could have kept the early hot hitting going, but he was very consistent with the power numbers. 

His favorite team to play? Cincinnati Reds (.417/.500/1.000) but that was just 3 games. Among AL teams it was the Twins (.524/.545/.667) but still a small sample, just 5 games. 

His least favorite team to play? Would you believe the Washington Nationals? .188/.235/.188, again just 3 games. Among AL teams he had troubles with the Yankees (.213/.250/.375) and that was in 18 games, so a more reasonable sample size. 

Fielding: Well, fangraphs didn't like his fielding so much showing him with a -1.5 UZR, slightly below average. I'm not sure I agree, though I used to think he should move back to short but I'm not thinking that anymore. I didn't see him as Gold Glove level but figured him to be better than average. We'll see when some of the other fielding formulas come out. He only made 7 errors for a .991 FP which would be second in the AL to Placido Polanco

Overall, it was a terrific year for Hill, just seeing him play after coming back from the concussion was great. Who would have hoped he'd have 36 homers and 108 RBI. He was amazingly durable, starting 155 games at second base and couple more at DH. Only Robinson Cano started more games at second base in the AL. I'd like to think that maybe Cito could learn to give him the odd day off.

So how much credit do you give Cito for Hill's new found power? He is tough to guess on those things, Cito seemed to have a clear effect on Adam Lind but I'm not sure if there is as clear a line between Cito and Hill. Cito was saying that Hill should take more walks, and it would be nice,  but that seems like nitpicking to me.. Cito was talking about moving him to third in the lineup and having Lind hit fourth, if they both continue to hit the same then that wouldn't be a bad idea.

He had a great season, making the All-Star team and winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. I wouldn't be surprised if he got a few MVP votes too. It this is his new level of performance life will be good.