When you examine the major league career of Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill, you almost have to divide it into 1/3′s.
The right handed hitting second baseman came up with the Toronto organization, beginning his major league career in 2005 with the Blue Jays. In the first third of his career, from 2005-2009, Hill was a productive player. In 2005, he platooned before solidifying himself into the starting lineup in 2006. From 2005-2008, Hill hit .280 and averaged 7 home runs and 47 RBI’s. Out of those four seasons, his effort in 2007 showed glimpses of the future power that he would possess. In 2007, he hit 17 home runs and drove in 78 RBI’s in 160 games.
In 2009, Aaron Hill had his breakout season. Hill crushed the ball that season in Toronto and posted monster numbers. He hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBI’s. He made the American League All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger Award that season. The sky was the limit for Hill and expectations sky-rocketed as the 2010 season approached.
In 2010, Hill began the second third of his career and it was marked by a dramatic decline in production. His average free fell to .205, his home runs decreased to 26 and his RBI’s plummeted to 68 that season. Many began to ask questions of how Hill produced his career high numbers the year before, others began to call it a fluke.
In 2011, Hill did nothing to prove his critics wrong at the beginning of the season. His average increased slightly to .225 in his first 104 games, but his power disappeared. He hit only six home runs and drove in 45 runs before Toronto decided to trade him to Arizona for second baseman Kelly Johnson, in an exchange of struggling second basemen looking for a fresh start.
The end of 2011 began the latter third of Hill’s career. Arizona proved to be the place where Hill would save his career and the D’backs benefited from a rejuvenated Hill, who began to hit the ball with regularity once again. Hill hit .315 for Arizona with two home runs and 16 RBI’s in 33 games to end the season setting up the potential for a big year for Hill the following season.
The 30 year-old second baseman did not disappoint last season as he posted excellent numbers, hitting .302 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI’s earning him his second Sliver Slugger award of his eight year major league career. His power returned and he provided the D’backs with constant offense throughout the season.
If Hill can fight off the demons that he faced in Toronto once he had success, he will continue to be a huge part of the team’s success. His defense is above average, his speed is good and if his offense stays consistent, it gives the D’backs one more weapon that they can deploy against the always tough pitching of the NL West. I see Hill continuing to hit in the two-hole this season for Arizona.
His path to success has been laced with trials and tribulations and facing this adversity has made him into a better ballplayer. Arizona took a shot on a guy that another organization had given up on and it has paid off. A great story about a man who has so far conquered the “Hill” of adversity that he had to get over.