Aaron Hill/Michael Young?

With leadoff man Marco Scutaro standing on first base in the opening inning last night, second baseman Aaron Hill put the Blue Jays on the board first by drilling the first pitch he saw from Bronson Arroyo over the wall in left. It was the 16th home run of the season for Hill, and it jumpstarted the Toronto offense, which went on to score eight runs in an 8-2 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. The win lifted Toronto to 40-33 and maintained a tie with the Yankees in the AL Wild Card race.

Hill2Hill, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk, hit the showers with 97 hits overall this season – trailing only Ichiro Suzuki (100) for the most in the majors to this point. Meanwhile, entering action Thursday, he has a .306 batting average and leads the Jays in homers (16) and total bases (155). He also sits second on the team with 51 RBIs.

It’s been a highly successful year thus far for Hill, who was knocked out – literally – after 55 games in 2008 due to a concussion. But he’s done more than just put Jays management at ease by returning to form. He’s on pace for a career year (and may be rewarded with an all-star appearance in St. Louis).

Just how good can Hill be? The 500 Level has for a long time wondered if he might reach similar heights to that of Michael Young, the Texas Rangers second baseman-turned shortstop-turned third baseman, who is also, coincidentally, a former Blue Jay.

Rangers Orioles BaseballFor a long time (perhaps even still now), Young was seen by Blue Jays fans as ‘the one that got away.’ Drafted by the Jays in the fifth round in 1997, Young was dealt in 2000 before he reached the majors along with pitcher Darwin Cubillan to the Rangers for Esteban Loaiza. All he’s done since is post a career .301 average with five seasons of 200-plus hits, five all-star appearances and a gold glove at shortstop in 2008.

If you’re a Blue Jays fan, there’s a very good chance you found yourself saying ‘If only we had Michael Young,’ during the numerous seasons that Toronto treated the shortstop position like a revolving door. Marco Scutaro has put those days to rest for now, but, of course, it still hurts.

So is an Aaron Hill/Michael Young comparison a legitimate one? (that is, besides the fact they have similar compact swings). As we said, Hill, 27, is on pace for a breakout year. Let’s take a look at what his projections are for 2009 …

160 G, .306 BA (218-for-713), 97 R, 23 2B, 36 HR, 115 RBI, 41 BB, 104 K, .344 OBP, .833 OPS

And here’s what Young did as a 27-year-old in 2004 …

160 G, .313 BA (216-for-690), 114 R, 33 2B, 22 HR, 99 RBI, 44 BB, 89 K, .353 OBP, .836 OPS

Now, that is strikingly similar – right down to the fact that neither walks too often and, as such, their on-base percentages aren’t spectacular for .300-plus hitters (and their BB/K ratios aren’t great). But their other numbers are certainly desirable.

What we didn’t realize was that, should he maintain his current pace, Hill’s power numbers would easily eclipse Young’s – even in his best years. The 32-year-old has career highs of 24 home runs (2005) and 103 RBI (2006).   

Michael Young may always be the one that got away, but it appears the Blue Jays may have got it right the second time around. And with the way he’s playing, Aaron Hill may just heal all those old wounds.

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2 Responses to “Aaron Hill/Michael Young?”

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