Is Aaron Hill Back?


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Is Aaron Hill back? That’s one of the questions that Dbacks faithful have been asking themselves. And unlike questions about the bullpen or Addison Reed, this one has been full of optimism and hope. Everyone’s become enamored with the idea of having Hill back as a presence in the middle of the lineup. And why shouldn’t they? Hill had incredibly productive seasons in the past.

Hill experienced his greatest highs with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2009, Hill had a career high 36 home runs and 108 RBI. Both of those numbers were good enough to rank among the Top 5 in the American League. Hill was just 5 hits short of 200. That season he was selected to appear in his only All Star Game. He was the Silver Slugger at 2nd Base and landed in 12th place in the American League MVP voting.

Apr 3, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The following season Hill did smack 26 home runs, but had 40 fewer RBI and his batting average reduced 80 points. In the summer of 2011, Hill was traded from Toronto to Arizona. In his first full season with the Dbacks in 2012, Hill showed his promise once again. He hit .302 with 26 homers and 85 RBI. Hill collected his 2nd Silver Slugger at 2nd Base.

2013 was another productive season for Hill, but it was a step down from the previous year. Finally, in 2014, Hill’s career completely descended. Hill only hit 10 homers and his batting average fell below .250. It was his lowest batting average since 2010, but at least back then he had hit 16 more home runs.

May 13, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed (13) throws to first base during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2015 season began, the Dbacks committed to a youth movement and handed the middle infield positions to Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. The 33-year old Hill would be relegated to utility role. While the Dbacks see plenty of promise in the 25-year old Ahmed and 23-year old Owings, both of them were having slow starts at the plate.

Enter Aaron Hill. In the month of May, he’s been on an absolute tear. So far he’s 14-for-31 (.452) and has a slugging percentage of .806 during the month. He’s slammed 3 home runs and driven in 9 runs. The outstanding play has risen his batting average to .284. Hill has seen playing time at 2nd base and 3rd base, splitting time with Yasmany Tomas at the hot corner.

Apr 22, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Chris Owings (16) swings the bat against the Texas Rangers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Owings has since heated up at the plate. In the last ten games, Owings is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with a homer. His hot bat has risen his season batting average to over .250. The same can’t be said about Ahmed. So far on the season, Ahmed is hitting a disappointing .159. There is no doubting Ahmed’s defensive abilities, but he seems overmatched at the plate.

The most offensive potential infield would be Hill at 2nd, Owings at shortstop, and Tomas at 3rd. If Hill can maintain his hot bat, it’ll give the Dbacks the flexibility to send Ahmed to Reno to work out his offensive issues. Hill’s resurgent offense has more players affected than that, however.

The whole Trumbo hitting 2nd experiment is partly dependent on the middle of the lineup’s ability to protect Paul Goldschmidt from being walked too often. With Hill smacking at the slugging percentage rate that he is, Mark Trumbo can remain at the #2 slot without the Dbacks suffering from a power outage in the middle of the lineup.

So….Is Aaron Hill back?……Let’s hope so.