Making Aaron Hill's MVP case

Is Aaron Hill playing just about as well this year as Dustin Pedroia did last year? Robert MacLeod argues that they're a lot closer than you probably think:

    Last season Dustin Pedroia hit .326 with 83 runs-batted-in and 17 home runs while playing a pretty decent second base for the Boston Red Sox.
    And for that Pedroia was chosen the winner of the American League's most-valuable-player award.

    This season Aaron Hill – who also happens to play a pretty decent second base for the Toronto Blue Jays – is hitting .291 with 26 home runs and 76 RBI with roughly one third of the regular season still left to play.

    The big difference with that comparison is that Pedroia played on a team that made a solid run into the playoffs, a possibility that remains a pipe dream for the Blue Jays, who will be lucky to finish the season with a .500 record.


    Canadian Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins leads the A.L. in home runs with 28 while Hill's 26 has pulled him into a second-place tie with Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees and Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    "Don't put me in that category," Hill said with a smirk after Saturday's game when reminded of the company he is now keeping. "Those guys are proven home run hitters. I'm just getting lucky."

    Lucky or not, there's no doubt Hill, who was chosen to his first all-star game this season, would be garnering some MVP support if the Jays were still in the A.L. playoff hunt.

There's no question about it: Hill is enjoying one fine season.
For him.

The comparison to Pedroia doesn't work, though. Not beyond the most basic statistics, anyway. Aside from the home runs, Pedroia did everything better last year than Hill is doing this year.

Last season, Pedroia batted .326; Hill is batting .291.

Pedroia finished last season with a .376 on-base percentage; Hill's sitting, right now, at .329.

Pedroia hit 54 doubles; Hill is going to finish with around 30.

Pedroia stole 20 bases while being caught just once; Hill has four steals this season.

Pedroia won a Gold Glove last year (and might have deserved it); it's actually Hill who's just "pretty decent."

Say what you want about the MVP process, but last year the voters -- in all their inconsistent, subjective, rationalizing glory -- went with the guy who led the American League in Wins Above Replacement.

And this year? As well as he's playing -- and again, there's that little matter of the .329 on-base percentage -- Aaron Hill this year isn't one of the dozen best players in the American League. I can't guarantee that Hill wouldn't draw some MVP support if the Blue Jays were contenders ... but then again, if they were contenders they'd probably have better MVP candidates than him.