August 4, 2011; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill (2) at bat during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Aaron Hill Looks Awfully Good Right Now


It is easy for me to understand the agitation and lament that Blue Jays fans express toward Kelly Johnson. There are days where I sit in my home in Vermont and have the check the weather report to determine if that cool breeze is due to a front sweeping down from Canada or another swing and miss from Johnson’s bat.

However, we cannot fault Johnson for effort here. After all, it takes a lot of concentration to register more K’s in a season than Mark Reynolds, a man who made Rob Deer look like Wade Boggs.

Needless to say, the fans have it right. Johnson has been an utter disappointment in 2012. When you are creating a negative WPA (Win Probability Added) of -.47, there is truly no better way to sum it up. In the end, the statistics put it quite bluntly that the Blue Jays paid Johnson $6.38 million to cost them ball games.

Oh, and did I mention that Toronto sent Arizona both the slick-fielding John McDonald and Aaron Hill in order to bring Johnson to Toronto?!

Of course at the time, the deal was seemingly working out for both clubs. Both second basemen needed a change of scenery. Immediately after the trade, both seemed to get rejuvenated by the switch. So it was sort of a win-win situation.

Then the calendar turned to 2012.

While Johnson has reverted back to what has become a habitual one-and-done good year/bad year sort of split that he’s managed in both Atlanta and Arizona prior, Hill has excelled in the desert.

Hill’s two cycles aside, the numbers speak for themselves:

    Kelly Johnson
Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2012 TOR 139 497 58 111 18 2 15 53 13 61 157 .223 .312 .358 .670 81
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2012.
    Aaron Hill
Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2012 30 ARI 150 582 86 174 40 6 24 78 14 51 84 .299 .358 .512 .870 128
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2012.

We will never know whether or not Hill would have been able to perform at that level in Toronto. The Blue Jays had given him ample opportunity to his 2009 form that made him arguably more valuable than either Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano for at least one season. When he could not put 2010 behind him and started 2011 on a similar skid, the Blue Jays were left to make a deal.

We can talk “could have been” all day long, but the fact is that it may never have been, and we could all be having similar conversations about the failures of Hill for another year. Still, sheer numbers make it an awfully tempting topic on its own right, and to be honest, Hill’s .870 OPS would have certainly been more helpful than Johnson’s .670 mark.

But hindsight is 20/20, and the Jays are left to look forward to 2013 and hopefully come up with a better solution at second.

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  • Dustin

    Even had the jays kept him for the rest of the season they would have declined his option anyways so it’s hard to call that a bad trade when all three players would have been free agents anyways