It was not all that long ago that many (including myself) had already written off the 2010 season for Aaron Hill and his partner in crime Adam Lind.
At first, it didn’t seem so bad because others such as Jose Bautista, Alex Gonzalez and John Buck were picking up the slack. Eventually though, the facade was revealed and behind it stood a slumping Aaron Hill.
It got to the point where I could no longer defend the actions of the Silver Sluggers from last season. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase “if Hill and Lind can turn it around … yadda yadda yadda … this team could do some damage”.
I think the low water mark for Aaron Hill was back on June 24th when he was dropped down from the coveted two slot in the lineup. Since then, Hill struggled to get his batting average up above the Mendoza Line but finally climbed the mountain on July 20th.
Now here we are though in the final three weeks left in the season and an interesting thing is starting to happen: Aaron Hill is hitting his power stride once again.
His BABIP continues to be ridiculously low at .204, however Fangraphs had a great article a few weeks back explaining troubles with batting average on balls in play and attributes it to Hill’s increased fly ball rate.
Consider it the opposite of the Jose Bautista effect: while Jose has increased the degree of loft on his swing and is hitting more balls out of the park, Aaron Hill is doing the same but more are turning into fly outs.
Aaron Hill really doesn’t have the kind of towering swing that Jose Bautista does. Hill is more of a line-drive home run hitter, and any slight adjustment in his swing is probably going to have a more more significant effect on his home run totals compared to a player who is your typical home run hitter.
I’m not exactly sure what got into Aaron Hill after the All-Star break, but it seems to be working. Since the break, Hill is hitting .259/.304/.494 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI’s.
Does it have anything to do with him hitting predominantly in the number six spot in the lineup? The answer is arguable, but I believe having a hacker like Hill down there plays better to his strengths.
Maybe Cito was trying to have Aaron Hill do too much by plugging him into the lineup card as the go-to number two hitter. Getting on base isn’t really Hill’s strong suit and that is a big requirement for your prototypical number two guy.
Over the final three weeks of the season, Aaron Hill will likely see a parade of September call-up spot starters and hopefully he will continue his path to resurgence.
The last few months have been very promising and are very quickly painting a positive picture for the Blue Jays second baseman for 2011 and beyond.