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.
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.
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.
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.