Fantasy Baseball: Aaron Hill vs. Ben Zobrist

by Cory J. Bonini and Eric McClung on March 18, 2010 @ 15:00:00 PDT


Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

Cory J. Bonini 

Hill's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Toronto Blue Jays 2B Aaron Hill
    Hill to climb for HR repeat?
    While Hill's major power spike last year may be a red flag, he has more of a track record than Ben Zobrist does. In 2007, Hill hit 17 home runs while his flyball rate jumped from 34.6 percent to 38.9 percent. His momentum was halted when he suffered a concussion cut his 2008 short, but his flyballs jumped to 41 percent in '09. There is at least a little reason to believe his 36 blasts last year weren't a total fluke; he picked up where he left off.
  • Prior to the 2009 season, Zobrist never hit better than .253 in a single season during his limited major league career (478 at-bats). His minor league batting average was all over the place. Zobrist had been a part-time player for his entire MLB career until late 2008. Who knows if he can sustain his success for another full season?
  • Hill was a .291 hitter in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons (1,154 at-bats), and his contact rate has increased in each of the last two seasons. It's not that Zobrist won't hit for average but rather that Hill has been good at it for a longer period of time in the bigs.
  • Hill showed consistent power all season long. After his hot start, Hill's batting average tanked in June and July, but he was able to rebound the rest of the way, thus showing resiliency. Zobrist relies on high HR/FB for his power; he still hits more grounders than Hill. Hill's flyball increase better supports his big jump in HR/FB. Even if the latter falls, he has a better chance of sustaining his homer blossoming.
  • Rogers Centre is a slightly better park for hitters than Tropicana Field is, though neither is a big help. Hill's power numbers were up at home, but he was very even otherwise on the road. In fact, his average increased 28 points away from home.
Closing argument: If you are looking for more bankable power with a healthy average, Hill is your man at second. He probably won't hit 36 bombs again, but there's enough reason to believe he is good for 25, which still places him in the upper echelon of fantasy keystoners as far as power goes. Zobrist's 2009 season was fantastic, as is his multi-positional eligibility, but he's a little too light in the swing to keep you competitive in power stats.

Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Eric McClung

Zobrist's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Last year's waiver wire gem will not be a fluke. Among the 10 second basemen who stole double-digit bases, five also hit 20-plus homers. The power is very much sustainable. Zobrist posted nearly identical GB/FB and HR/FB ratios in 2009 when compared to the 62 big-league games he played in 2008. His second-half slowdown in power is overstated. While Zobrist hit only two homers in July, he belted five in August and added four more long balls the rest of the way.
  • Tampa Bay Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist
    Zobrist: full-time success for real?
    What did change for Zobrist was patience at the plate, even while he remained aggressive. He compiled an elite 15.2 percent walk rate and near average 20.8 strikeout rate. The same combination made him successful during Triple-A; when his playing time increased at the end of 2008; and during last season's coming-out party.
  • Some may point to his high .326 BABIP as a sign that Zobrist can't sustain his .297 batting average, but his BABIP was also higher than most in Triple-A. Zobrist also sported repeatable line-drive (20.0 percent) and flyball (38.5 percent) rates last season.
  • Zobrist is eligible at second base and outfield in pretty much every setup, but check your league's requirements. Last year, Zobrist also played 13 games at shortstop, three at first base and one at third. Drafting a Swiss Army knife gives owners extra flexibility.
  • While I doubt Aaron Hill will repeat 36 homers and 108 RBIs - both were tops among second basemen - he'll continue to hit for power. Hill is a free-swinging pull hitter, though. Coming off a career-low 5.7 percent walk rate last year, Hill is a bigger batting average risk. On the other hand, Zobrist has seen much less change in his hitting metrics and is surrounded by better bats. If you mainly need power up in the middle, Hill is a decent option, but you should expect some instability in his batting average.
Closing argument: Both Hill and Zobrist have a limited track record, so we can't pretend there is not some risk involved. But when comparing these two, the trade-off of a little less power for roster flexibility, speed and a more stable batting average makes Zobrist the preferred selection.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Aaron Hill Ben Zobrist
Nicholas Minnix   X
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae   X
Cory J. Bonini X  
Keith Hernandez   X
Eric McClung   X
Matt Trueblood   X

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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