Looking At Aaron Hill’s Historic Struggles And If He Can Rebound In 2011

After hitting .286 with 36 HR, 108 RBI and 106 R in 2009, there was little doubt that Aaron Hill was going to take a step backwards in 2010.  Not that his numbers were overly unbelievable, it’s just from a second baseman it is nearly impossible to replicate that type of a season.  Those are elite numbers.  Those are Hall of Fame type numbers.

However, what fantasy owners got in 2010 was a complete disaster.  He didn’t just regress, he fell off a cliff.  Just look at the numbers and see for yourself:

528 At Bats
.205 Batting Average (108 Hits)
26 Home Runs
68 RBI
70 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.271 On Base Percentage
.394 Slugging Percentage
.196 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Obviously, the BABIP was an unbelievably unlucky number.  That’s just not supposed to happen.  To say that it’s a new standard of bad luck would actually be an understatement.  I researched back to 1995 and no other hitter in that time has posted a BABIP below .220.

Just let that set in for a second.  No other hitter has posted a season with a BABIP since 1995.  Aaron Hill posted a mark under .200.

It’s just not possible to be that unlucky, is it?

Part of the problem may have been that he went homer happy.  After going on a home run fest of his own in 2009 and seeing his teammates (most notably Jose Bautista) get a ton of attention for hitting the long ball, Hill’s fly ball rate took an enormous leap:

  • 2009 – 41.0%
  • 2010 – 54.2%

Clearly, he was trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark, at it came at the expense of his line drive rate:

  • 2009 – 19.6%
  • 2010 – 10.6%

When you hit the ball in the air, and not on a line drive, your chances of having bad luck increase exponentially.  It’s easier for a fielder to make a play on a ball in the air, as they have time to make a play.

While you would expect him to be luckier then he was, it really didn’t matter.  With that type of fly ball rate, unless he was going to hit 40 HR, his average was going to suffer.

In turn, the doubles also disappeared.  One of the reasons many people thought a 2009 breakout was possible was that in 2007 (remember, he missed a great deal of the 2008 season), he posted 47 doubles.  Even in 2009 he was hitting two-baggers, as he had 37.

In 2010 he had just 22.

Hopefully he goes to the film this offseason and realizes what he was doing and makes the necessary corrections.  That’s the only chance he has if he wants to become one of the more productive middle infielders in the game once again.

Could it happen?  Absolutely.  Will it?  It’s too early to tell.  I certainly wouldn’t use an early round pick on him, but with the talent we all know he has, it’s certainly worth taking the flyer if other people are scared off.

What are your thoughts on Hill?  Will he rebound in 2011?  Would you consider using him?

Make sure to check out our 2011 projections:

3 comments

  1. Chief Aloique says:

    Wow!

    BABIP is one of those weird stats that I’ve never really been able to feel comfortable with in evaluating a batter, and so I don’t, although I have found it somewhat useful in subliminally evaluating pitchers.

    I mean, even Mark Reynolds — the quintessential all-or-nothing batter (this year more than ever) — had a BABIP this year of .257 off a BA of .198. Contrast that with Bautista’s .233 BABIP off a .260 BA. I’ve just never been able to get a handle on what, exactly, something like that is supposed to tell me in terms of comparative fantasy baseball worth for a batter . . . (stay away from both of them next year????)

    Still, Hill’s BABIP vs. BA is beyond freaky, even more so there in the lowest of the low end of batting stats. The only thing more impossible than his stats this year would be for a guy with his history to come remotely close to repeating that next year. You can believe that I’ll be targeting him, with a good amount of confidence, as one of the bargains of next year’s draft, especially at that thin position.

  2. Chief Aloique says:

    By the way, one has to wonder what Toronto’s team BABIP was this year. Without looking it up, you just have to get the feeling that it must be one of the all-time lowest.

  3. Its highly unlikely Aaron Hill will rebound to the fantasy stardom he reached during his magical 2009 season. But it is almost equally as unlikely that he is as big a disaster as he was in 2010. His poor season could also put him on many owners Do Not Draft list which bodes well for those willing to take a risk. But for Hill to regain serious fantasy value as a second baseman he doesnt have to get all the way back to his 2009 numbers. His alarmingly low BABIP calls for a regression back to the norm and a raise in batting average. On top of that Hill’s homerun total dropped from 36 to 26, but he also had 150 fewer plate appearance which could account for the difference

    His ADP according to MockDraft Central (179) places him right around the 15th round of a 12 team league. He seems to be a better investment than other 2B drafted in this area such as Howie Kendrick, Gordon Beckham, and Mike Aviles. It could be an upHill (weak pun) battle but Hill is a guy who could make a lot of fantasy owners very happy in 2011.

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