In the last four seasons, Aaron Hill has given his fantasy baseball owners three solid performances and one absolute dud. Regardless, he has quietly been one of the best second baseman in the game over that span. Aside from a horridly turbulent 2011 in which he only managed eight home runs, the Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman has surpassed the 25 home run mark every season since his breakout 2009 and has hit a respectable .275 over that span while averaging close to 84 RBI.
Given the thin nature of the second base position, that’s pretty good.
Actually, it’s really good. The only second basemen with more home runs than Hill in the last four seasons are Robinson Cano and Dan Uggla. That’s true for RBI as well.
Hill hit 26 home runs in 2012 to go along with 85 RBI and stealing 14 bases on the side, but the most promising of Hill’s stats from last season was his average. After hitting a surprising .315 in 2011, the career .272 hitter broke the .300 plateau again with a .302 mark in 2012, perhaps finally proving to his fantasy owners that he could do more than just hit home runs.
Expecting another 36 home run season like in 2009 might be a stretch, but Hill is a solid bet for at least 20 long balls in 2013. If he can keep his average above .300 like he has the last two seasons, we could see his stolen bases rise close to 20. Considering he’s 73rd overall on most draft boards and seventh among second baseman, that could make him a steal.
A couple of stats to keep in mind are the fact that Hill hit .316 against righties in 2012 largely because of a .333 average on balls in play which is a good 40 points higher than his career average. There could be some natural decline in that area. On the other hand, Hill has proven himself to get better as the season goes on, and August and September are his most lucrative months when it comes to home runs and RBI, so he’s a good player to have come playoff time.
Overall, Hill may be overlooked because of his playing on a rebuilding team, but if he can replicate his stats from 2012, he’s almost a lock to be a top five fantasy second baseman come season end. Keep an eye on him.
2013 Projections: .290 average, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 15 SB, 88 RS