Aaron Hill became a popular pick in 2008 after he hit 17 homers the year before. Then his power fell in the limited time he saw before dealing with-post concussion symptoms from colliding with teammate David Eckstein. This year, Hill has gone beyond every expectation and powered out 31 homers so far.
While Hill is experiencing a breakout, the fans in Minnesota are getting what they always expect from Justin Morneau. He has always had the ability to hit 30 homers along with a solid average, but this year he has started to walk a lot more and added a solid OBP to his attack.
Name GP AB R HR RBI SB CS K% BB% BABIP HR/F P/PA Aaron Hill 134 582 82 31 91 4 2 15.3% 5.2% 0.290 14.9% 3.5 Justin Morneau 128 483 83 29 97 0 0 17.0% 12.5% 0.288 17.3% 3.7
|MLB: SEP 05 Twins at Indians
Minnesota Twins’ first baseman Justin Morneau in action against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Sept. 5. The Twins defeated the Indians 4-1 in the second game of their three-game weekend series. (Icon/SMI)
Another MVP award based on RBI totals in 2006 led to Morneau being a perennial top-five pick at first base. His totals were always solid in all categories except for steals. Since then he has been fairly solid, but has often fallen slightly below expectations in one of his categories. This year Morneau has put up 2006 numbers but added to his walks.
His strikeout rate has been solid over the years with slight ups and downs, but at a career level of 16% he has good contact skills. The change has been in walk rate the past few years going from 8.2% in 2005 and 2006 to 9.8% in 2007 and 10.9% in 2008. He again made very strong strides in 2009 by walking in 12.5% of his plate appearances.
Even with the increase in walks, his OBP is still not a career high. Thanks to a BABIP of only .288, his average and OBP are lower than they could be. This isn’t all bad luck though with a LD% that has fallen to 16.2%. His line drives have fallen before, so I don’t expect this to be a continued drop in BABIP.
He has small fluctuations, but Morneau is one of the more reliable choices at first base since 2006.
It’s not much of a surprise that looking at HitTracker you find Aaron Hill is tied for the AL lead in “just enough” homers. His power growth went beyond any owner’s wildest expectations and with 12 homers being “just enough,” he has a 39% rate. That is way above the league average and calls for a regression in power. His HR/F rate has also shown his amazing power growth going from 8% in his breakout 2007 year to the 14.9% he is at this year.
Hill has trouble getting on base and his walk rate on his career stands at 6.7%. With a .335 career OBP his run totals have always dragged his value down. This year he is on pace to top 90 runs for the first time, but if he’s unable to continue to hit 30 homers going forward he will likely return to 80 runs.
His speed on the bases has also hurt his value. He has only topped 4 steals once before and his speed score for his career is only 4.0. This has been lower this year at only 2.7 and has surely cost him several more runs. This lack of speed has also likely been part of the reason for his low BABIP this year, which is at .290 and only .311 on his career.
Not many leagues use OBP as a category, but ignore it at your own risk. Hill needs more runs to really get the most value, but just doesn’t have the skills. Expecting less in all categories next year except his average is not encouraging for next year.
We can see pretty clearly that Morneau may have equal numbers to Hill this year, but Morneau is the more consistent player and more likely to repeat these numbers again. Hill has the advantage of second base eligibility, but these two won’t be clones next year for sure based on the numbers. Looking at Fantasy Ball Junkie’s 2010 very early Fantasy baseball draft we see Aaron Hill going in the fifth round. He also went right behind Ben Zobrist who I would recommend as the much better pick with five solid categories and a great OBP to back it up.