(This article was recently updated based on current ADP trends)
Remember Aaron Hill’s name. He won’t have the same sleeper status in 2013 as he did in 2012, but he’s still not gaining the ADP respect that he deserves. Hill was at the top of the leaderboard for nearly every offensive category among 2B - .302 BA, 26 HR, 85 RBI, 93 R, 14 SB. That is all-around production that many fantasy owners are downplaying as unsustainable. This is where looking back at Hill’s last four seasons can provide some much-needed perspective.
Outside of an outlier 2011 season, Hill has recently had 26 HRs twice and of course his great breakout year in 2009 with 33 HR. His very high 23.4 AB/HR ratio in 2012 is not that far off from his 2009 (33 HRs) ratio of 18.9%. Equally impressive is that the HRs came at almost an equal pace at home and on the road: 14 HR at home, 12 HR on the road, and his AB/HR was identical vs. both LHP and RHP. This tells us that he can hit bombs anywhere, off anyone. He brings a consistent approach and there are no warning signs that point to a major aberration from his gaudy 2012 campaign. The power is real, and is all the more valuable coming from the ulta-thin 2B position. Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler are the only other solid 2B who can challenge Hill in terms of raw power production.
Judging from ADP, it seems that other owners are concerned about Hill’s batting average. In 2010 he was pitiful with a .205 BA; 2011 brough a slight improvement in plate approach, resulting in a .246 BA. And in 2012, Hill was making much more consistent contact, showing through his .302 BA. Those 2010 plate problems stemmed directly from a very low 10% line drive rate, which he has since corrected. In 2011 and 2012 he was able to raise that LD% to the much more respectable 21+% range. The difference in actual BA from 2011 to 2012 was driven by a perhaps unsustainable 50-point differential in BABIP. All told, Aaron Hill has a solid batting eye at the plate and he can square the ball up nicely-- that is a recipe for a solid average. Expect to see a BA in the range of around .280 or so in 2013.
The other unsung stat was his 14 SB, which followed a 2011 season with 21 SB. Just doing a quick
filter shows that there were only seven other players with at least 26 HR and 14 SB: Hill is keeping company here with legitimate top players like Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Andrew McCuthchen, Adam Jones, Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton. I know it feels weird to associate Aaron Hill with those guys, but Hill's 2011 and 2012 numbers tell us he'll be good for 12-15 SB in 2013.
One final point of note is that Hill is slated to bat in the #3 slot in the Diamondbacks lineup, which is a great spot for any player to accumulate solid counting stats.
RotoBaller's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Score: 7.5
(scores are from 1 - 10, with 10 being the biggest sleeper potential based on current ADPs)
RotoBaller's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .281/26/79/78/15
RotoBaller's Target Draft Rounds: Rounds 3-4
Hill has potential to be a top-3 2B in 2013. You are looking at a five-tool 2B with, plus power and RBI potential, in a great hitters park, who is still in his prime. Current ADPs have Hill going in the seventh-round range, which we feel is a great value and an undervalued ADP that can provide some nice draft day returns. Don’t be afraid to jump the gun and take him in Round 5. Beyond Cano and Pedroia, you might prefer Ian Kinsler, which is understandable, but RotoBaller thinks there is no way you should draft any other 2B before Hill in 2013.
For more RotoBaller.com 2B analysis, check out our full 2B fantasy baseball rankings here.