His name is Hill. Aaron Hill. And if you are following baseball this season — especially Toronto Blue Jay baseball, than you’ve heard of Hill and his offensive exploits.
Specifically, his league-leading 51 hits. Oh yeah, his eight home runs, 28 RBI and 25 runs scored with a .375 batting average aren’t too shabby, either.
The big question with Hill — the same player that went undrafted in a number of fantasy baseball leagues earlier this spring — is whether or not he’s having an Ian Kinsler-esque coming-out party, or if he’s one of the biggest sell-high candidates in fantasy baseball.
Hill, to many, is an anomoly. Last season was shortened for him due to injury — and he produced just two home runs and 20 RBI on a .263 batting average in 55 games. His stats from this season (listed above) were accomplished in just 32 games. This season, he has a home run-to-games played ratio of 25%. Last year, again offset by injuries, his HR/G ratio was a mediocre .036%.
Hill started playing with Toronto in the big leagues in 2005. From then through the 2007 season, his numbers steadily climbed. For example, in 105 games in his rookie campaign, he plated 40 runners (38%). By 2007, he accumulated 78 RBI in 160 games (49%). His home runs through the first three seasons of his major league career climbed from three, to six, to 17.
If we look past his shortened 2008 season, he definitely was on pace to greatly improve his stats — especially in a Blue Jay lineup that has, so far this season, been very potent.
Projecting his current eight home runs in 32 games over the course of a season (specifically to 160 games played — like he had in 2007), he’s on pace to hit 40 home runs this season (again 25% HR/G ratio). In 2007, easily his most productive full season to date, he cracked 17 home runs in 160 games, or 11%.
Realistically, Hill won’t hit 40 home runs this season, unless he’s somehow sneaking steroids. However, it is reasonable to expect him to easily surpass the 17 home runs he had in 2007 (he’s already almost halfway there). Splitting the difference between the 17 homers he smacked in 2007 and the 40 he’s on pace for at the moment, he could realistically hit 28 dingers this year (he’d only need 11 more all season) — and compared to the stats of second baseman last season, that would place him third in round-trippers at the position (behind just Chase Utley and Dan Uggla). Hill has always hovered around a .300 batting average during full-season play in the majors, so while his .325 may deflate a little the rest of the way, he should still provide solid batting average help to many at second base in fantasy leagues. Neither Utley (.292) or Uggla (.260) hit over .300 last year — and actually, only a few others at the position were able to do so. He also should compete for the best RBI total at the position, too, although predicting RBI can be tough.
The bottom line is that Hill looks like a player on the rise, and at a fairly shallow position, should be a top option moving forward.