Comparing Hill to the AL East

 

hill

 

Toronto Blue Jays 2B Aaron Hill is having a career year at the age of 27, the age most players historically tend to have one of their best overall seasons.  Hill has enjoyed a huge spike in power this year with 32 HRs (1 better than Chase Utley) as he has also seen his HR/FB double his career mark (15.5% in 2009) so I doubt Hill will continue to show this sort of power output next season if his fly ball numbers normalize.  Any way you look at it though Aaron Hill is having a fine season, one of the best seasons a Toronto Blue Jays 2B has ever had in fact. 

It made me want to see how he compared to the other big 2B currently employed in the AL East, with one exception, I left off Rays Ben Zobrist who is having a great season but has played nearly every position on the diamond.  The four 2B we will look it will be Toronto’s Aaron Hill, New York’s Robinson Cano, Bahston’s Dustin Pedroia and the Orioles veteran Brian Roberts, let’s see who has had the best season in 2009.

Standard stats:

Robinson Cano – .319 avg (babip – .324), 185 hits, 41 2B, 23 HR, 95 runs, 4 SB

Dustin Pedroia – .297 avg (babip – .303), 164 hits,43 2B, 13 HR, 100 runs,17 SB

Aaron Hill – .288 avg (babip – .294), 175 hits, 30 2B, 32 HR, 88 runs, 4 SB

Brian Roberts – .285 avg (babip – .322), 160 hits, 51 2B, 15 HR, 100 runs, 29 SB

Nobody has been overly unlucky so far on balls hit into play in terms of batting average and each player brings their own skill set to the table in the standard stats category. 

Advanced stats:

Robinson Cano – 4.4% BB / 9.8% K, .350 OBP, .197 ISO, .367 wOBA

Dustin Pedroia – 10.1% BB / 7.4% K, .369 OBP, .152 ISO, .359 wOBA

Aaron Hill – 5.3% BB / 14.8% K, .327 OBP, .207 ISO, .353 wOBA

Brian Roberts – 9.9% BB / 17.1% K, .353 OBP, .174 ISO, .357 wOBA

Very close in the ever important wOBA category (weighted on-base average) but I think Dustin Pedroia’s ability to take a walk and limit his strikeouts stands out to me, what he lacks in ISO he more than makes up for with OBP skills.

Defence:

Robinson Cano – UZR (– 6.2), RF/9 – 4.7,

Dustin Pedroia – UZR (10.2), RF/9 – 4.4,

Aaron Hill – UZR (-0.6), RF/9 – 5.2,

Brian Roberts – UZR (-4.3), RF/9 – 4.5,

I think Pedroia is the best defender of the four, but Aaron Hill is a close second.  I posed the question to the FanGraphs faithful as to why UZR was giving Dustin Pedroia such a big advantage and the general answer was “not sure”.  Some feel Pedroia on average is just making better plays, while some feel the Jays employ the exaggerated “shift” on lefties more than the average team (more than Boston) and this is robbing Aaron Hill of more “rangy” plays that Marco Scutaro is taking from him as the SS.

Final Ranking (ranked each stat 1-4 in all three categories, the best in each category is given a 1)

(28) #1 Dustin Pedroia – BOS

(31) #2 Robinson Cano – NYY

(34) #3 Brian Roberts – BAL

(35) #4 Aaron Hill – TOR

These results (taken with a grain of salt) are not that surprising to me and they shouldn’t be to Jay’s fans either, even though the common thread is that Aaron Hill is having the best overall season for a 2B by a landslide.  This does not take anything away from what he has done, the power spike has been huge and the league has taken notice but Aaron Hill is not without his flaws – notably his overall command of the strike zone and lack of patience at the plate.  The talk is that Cito Gaston plans to use Aaron Hill in the 3-hole next season, a spot typically held for the team’s best all-around hitter and a spot I do not see Aaron Hill thriving in unless he makes a marked improvement in both his BB% and OBP. 

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3 responses to “Comparing Hill to the AL East

  1. I’m with you on the point that Hill needs to draw more walks next season. He is a great hitter, but he needs to take after Scutaro and get some walks and not swing at the first pitch so frequently.

    I don’t think anybody expects Hill to put up similar numbers to these next season, but even if he falls down to 20 HR and 75 RBI that would still make many of us in Blue Jay land very very happy.

  2. Good post, and I agree that we won’t see this kind of power from him again. The extra power this year is coming from him simply swinging at a lot more pitches (check Fangraphs). He can keep doing that but he risks being figured out as a dead pull hitter.

    His defense is being underrated by UZR for sure. If you check his Hardball Times stats, he is 2nd among all ML 2B in RZR, 1st in double plays turned, and first in OOZ, out of zone plays, which means he’s getting to balls that no other 2B can get to. That adds up to Hill being arguably the best 2B in the majors.

  3. Hey, I agree. I think a lot of 2Bs are turning into HRs this season so even if that switches around next year we are still looking at a valuable middle infielder. Who knows, maybe the power can stay?

    He is a better fielder than UZR gives him credit for, by how much I am not sure. When I watch the games, he looks pretty solid out there but I don’t feel that just watching him is enough of a measure because emotions can cloud your judgement. Example, he makes a great diving play that saves a run (for Halladay hopefully) and I will think he is better than he is, same goes for a bad play etc.

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