Hill vs. Johnson: An Early Comparison

The trade that buckled the stock market and caused a work stoppage across America is now two weeks into its existence. It came out of nowhere, like a time machine suddenly popping up in someone's bathroom at an unfortunate time. It was sudden, it was shocking, and to a few people it was slightly disturbing. Well, the results are in - sort of - so it's high-time we get this party started.

Here's the breakdown as each player has played 14 games with their new team as of today's date:

Aaron Hill .375 .410 .589 169 4.9% 11.9% .214 .408 0.2 0.8
Kelly Johnson .250 .339 .462 114 11.9% 28.8% .212 .333 0.4 0.3

Let's start out with the obvious stuff. Kelly Johnson hasn't changed much as he continues his Mark Reynolds-esque K% while still mashing the ball like Zeus on lightning. Meanwhile, Aaron Hill has maintained his BB:K rates and has made some nice defensive plays. As advertised, for the most part. Right, yeah, we don't care about all that, let's get to the juicy bits.

As you can see, Hill's ISO has taken a massive spike. He has nine extra-base hits in just 56 at-bats - nearly half of what he produced in 396 at-bats with the Blue Jays - and he is currently riding a ten game hitting streak. His BABIP is certainly a large factor in this but as anyone who has been watching D-backs games lately can vouch for, he's been hitting balls hard. His LD% is at an amusing 28% while his flyball percentage has dropped significantly to 34%. In other words, he's Justin Upton-ing the baseball right now. If you pair up the power with the discipline at the plate, you get a mirror image of Kelly Johnson without all of the strikeouts. That makes Kevin Towers really happy.

Another plus on the Hillside of things (teehee) is that he has done a fairly significant chunk of his damage while on the road. You can argue that Coors Field and AT&T Park are just as generous as Chase Field is but you get what I'm saying. His home/road splits are similar. His O-Swing% has improved, going from chasing balls at a 32% clip with Toronto to a 25% clip with Arizona. Looks as if he's not pressing quite as much. His UZR is hard to gauge at this point given the small sample size but my eyes have witnessed him make a few solid grabs and free himself of any errors. So far, so good.

Johnson, on the other hand, hasn't been too iffy himself. His BABIP has finally regressed upward and, much like Hill, his LD% has increased dramatically to 26% while his flyball percentage has dipped a few points to 37%. With this, Johnson's batting average has climbed from the basement and sits at .250 (with Toronto, at least). He is also drawing walks at a slightly more favorable pace than before, raising his percentage a few points to 12%. Oddly enough, he's swinging more at pitches outside of the zone (31% in AZ to 34% in TOR) and less at pitches inside of the zone (70% in AZ to 61% in TOR). Sample size weirdness, I'm guessing. Johnson also currently boasts a better UZR despite the fact that he's committed two errors. Defensive ratings are strange.

Both players seem to be (statistically) enjoying the change of scenery so far and they're both making a decent enough pull to warrant a discussion on 2012 decisions. I was wondering if Arizona might consider buying out Hill's contract and seeing if they could persuade him to sign a more team friendly deal - say somewhere around $5MM or $6MM. Maybe something incentive based? Hey, if they can do it for Tom Gordon, they can do it for Aaron Hill.