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Fantasy Baseball 2014: Upside of Aaron Hill

Those of you in Yahoo leagues, do me a favor, click on the 2012 statistics for 2B.  Now look right below Robinson CanoAaron Hill of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is the name you see, finished that year as the 26th overall player according to Yahoo rankings.  The next closest 2B, was Ian Kinsler at 69.

Still using Yahoo’s rankings, now look for Aaron Hill’s name in 2013. I’ll give you a hint. He finished ranked 402. This year you find him ranked 118th overall, or the 10th best 2B.  In early mock drafts, he is getting selected on average 127th overall, just outside the Top-10 among 2B.

Hill was hit by a pitch and suffered a fracture in his hand on April 14th, the 10th game he played in last season. In those ten games he had 36 ABs where he hit .306 with two home runs. He would miss the next two months and return in late June, but he would be the first to admit he was not 100% when he did return.

In fact, the bone that broke in his hand, it is still broken.  Normally that would be enough to scare me off.  However, Hill had an August last year that eases some of my concerns. In that month, broken bone and all, Hill had four HRs in 94 ABs with an AVG of .372.  Overall in the 2nd half, Hill hit 7 HRs in 217 ABs with a .295 AVG.  Comparing HRs and AVG after the break last year, Hill bested the likes of Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist, Ian Kinsler and even Jason Kipnis.

The most concerning part of Hill’s game last year was that he was only able to steal one base on five attempts. In 2012, he was caught five times in 19 attempts. That is a sign that the soon to be 32 year-old may no longer threaten to steal double digit SBs.  That definitely reduces his fantasy value.

Despite his regression in SBs, I would argue his odds of outscoring some of his 2B “tier peers” are decent.  For example, Kinsler is going to a new team with a deeper park that should cut into his HR total. Phillips is likely getting shifted from batting fourth to second with new manager Bryan Price.  A move that likely will reduce Phillips’ overall fantasy value as well.

Hill’s situation in Arizona seems a little more stable and with that his production is less susceptible to change than that of Kinsler or Phillips.  The only major difference to the DBacks lineup is the addition of Mark Trumbo.  Not a bad addition for Hill owners.

Now comparing Hill to Zobrist is a little apples to oranges, as Zobrist’s position flexibility makes him more valuable. I will draft Zobrist ahead of Hill and day of the week, but as far as overall numbers go, Hill can outproduce Zobrist if he stays healthy.

Hill is neither a Brian Roberts nor a Troy Tulowitzki, but he has battled his share of bumps and bruises in his career.   However, if he does stay healthy, avoids a freak injury like the one he suffered last season, a return to fantasy prominence is inevitable.

My projections for Hill in 2014 are 79/20/73/8/.275.  That falls in line with our very own Tanner Bell’s projections here with the Crackerjacks.  However, in our Crackerjacks 2B rankings, Hill is only projected to reach a modest 453 ABs.  Using Bell’s same awesome spreadsheet, we increased Hill’s ABs to 567, and came up with my projections above.  In that scenario Hill would be a Top-10 2B and Top-60 overall hitter.

If you increase Hill’s plate appearances to 668 or 606 ABs like he had in 2012, then Hill enters the Top-5 for 2B with projections of 84/22/77/8/.275.  In other words, Hill has the upside of being a second tier 2B; not bad value after the first 100 picks. He may not end up the second highest scoring 2B like he was in 2012, but I would rather draft Hill at his current ADP over Kinsler at his ADP and take my chances with Hill’s stability and potential.

Tags: Aaron Hill Arizona Diamondbacks MLB Second Base

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