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The Season That Was: Aaron Hill

Coming off a career year hopes were pretty high for Aaron Hill. 36 home runs and a .286 average will do that. Bill James figured him for a .283/.337/.463 line with 20 home runs and most of us figured that was pessimistic. Turned out it wasn't:

2010 - Aaron Hill 138 528 70 108 22 0 26 68 41 85 2 2 .205 .271 .394

Fangraphs had him at a 1.1 mostly on the strength of his fielding, which would have a $4.6 million value.

Aaron was another of our right-handed batters who had a big reverse split this year, hitting RHP .228/.285/.444 and lefties .125/.226/.225. Over his career he hasn't had much of a split at all. I don't know why he had huge reverse split.

He hit slightly better at home, .215/.294/.426 than on the road, .196/.252/.367.

With RISP Aaron hit .225/.278/.428, not good but slightly better than he did at other times. 

Surprisingly he walked about about the same rate as in 2009 (7.2% this year, 7.1% in 2009) and actually lowered his strikeout rate (15.1% in 2010, 16.1% in 2009). What went wrong? Well his line drive rate dropped almost in half (10.6% in 2010, 19.6% in 2009). He hit fewer ground balls (35.3% from 39.5%). Lots more fly balls (54.2% from 41.0%). His infield fly rate didn't go up as much as I figured it would (12.9 in 2010, 11.6% in 2009). 

The huge change was his BABIP. He only hit .196 on balls in play compared to .270 last year. with the drop in his line drive rate you would expect it to drop but not by that much. So he was getting a little unlucky. 

His longest hitting streak was 7 games. The longest he went without a hit was 5 games. 

By month:

April .162/.311/.297

May .184/.273/.395

June .198/.264/.347

July .250/.292/.393

August .248/.287/.515

September .165/.222/.352

So he started terribly and pretty much continued that way all season. August was better but then September was awful too. If there were couple of good months in there it would make you feel a little better about going into this season. It is funny, all through spring we were told about how Hill was going to take more pitches, take more walks. He did have a great spring, then had a bit of a hamstring injury at the end of it and the season went to pieces. 

Fangraphs liked his defense, he had a 4.3 UZR/150 his year, a big jump from his -4.3 from a year before. His UZR/150 was 3rd best in the AL among second basemen, and much better than Gold Glove winner Robinson Cano (-0.9). He made a few more errors this year (10) than he normally makes but it still isn't a huge number. 

His favorite team to play was the Padres hitting .357/.357/.571 in 3 games against them. Of the AL teams he hit best against Oakland: .250/.400/.500. His least favorite was the Mariners, who he hit just .105/.105/.105.

The Jays have some decisions to make with Hill. They have 3 team option years starting in 2012. If the team takes the options he will make $8 million in 2012 and 2013 and then $10 million in 2014. If they are going to pick up all three options the team has to make that decision before next season. If they decline to pick up all three options they can still accept the 2012/2013 after this season. Right now it is a tough choice. I think if it was up to me I'm not picking up anything this winter and decide what to do after next season. 

There is also a chance that the team will pick up another 2B and move Hill over to third. But then his defense at 2nd isn't bad. He's going to have to hit much better than last year to be much value at either position. 

I don't know why he wouldn't hit better. He is a career .270 hitter. I don't why he would suddenly forget how to hit at age 28.