What did Aaron Hill's 2011 Arizona stint reveal?
For starters, it cemented his willingness to run; he wasn't really a swiper for the majority of his Toronto Blue Jays tenure, but he started to thieve in his final two months north of the border and ramped it up in steal-friendly 'Zona. That should continue, to a degree, which offers hope for at least a moderate fantasy rebound for the enigmatic keystoner.
Hill's first-half hammy injury sapped his lower-body drive and his homer potential. He's also a pull hitter who often overswings; his slumps ... slump. Badly. During his .310-1-10, 20-run September, however, he became more selective and started seeing a payoff in his lower hand placement during at-bats, which he changed in his final week with the Jays.
Chase Field helps hitters more than it hurts them; it has aided right-handed homer potential in recent years. Hill boasts the contact frequency to facilitate a clip rebound, too, especially if he can sustain the supreme jump in line-drive rate he saw last year. Caution: He's still a fly-first swatter, so grounders will need luck to buoy his batting average.
Banking on Hill returning to 2009-2010 tater levels is shaky but reasonable. Once more, with feeling: Once a player displays a skill, he owns it. With health, he'll reside in a much better setting to aid you in power and stolen bases, which improves his odds of returning value.
Many will consider him poison, even for a mixed MI slot, but you could net a notable profit by buying him following another down year.
How does Jason Kubel's new home affect him?
Kubel altered his plate approach last year, focusing more on spraying the ball toward the gaps while sacrificing a bit of power. The Minnesota Twins preach to use all fields whenever possible. Arizona seems to be a more free-swinging atmosphere.
A sprained foot cost two months and any hope of keeping up his new M.O. with vitality. Gerardo Parra made significant strides last year and with a Kubel collapse could be called upon again at least in part-time duty. Strikeouts continue to plague Kubel, but he's headed in the right direction in his contact and fly-ball rates; he's turning 30 in May and keeps growing as a hitter.
Optimism for Kubel should increase thanks to his new setting, though it might not always materialize in draft rooms. Maybe, as Nicholas Minnix assessed, with the right breaks Kubel could come close to rejoining the 20-homer club while sustaining his clip advancements. Mixed teams with deep outfield quotas should consider that potentially perfect storm at a possibly alluring price.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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