By Tommy Rancel//
The Arizona Diamondbacks decided to shake up the interior of their team on Tuesday when they acquired a pair of middle infielders – Aaron Hill and John McDonald – from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for their own starting second baseman Kelly Johnson. In McDonald, the Diamondbacks pick up a very good defender along the middle infield and depth at shortstop behind in Stephen Drew’s absence. He provides little in terms of offense and is not considered a real play in any league format.
Hill and Johnson, on the other hand, have spent the last few seasons as key performers at the keystone position.
After smashing 36 home runs in 2009, Aaron Hill belted another 26 home runs last season. As a career .265 hitter with below average walk rates, all of his production came from his power. This season that power has disappeared, taking any value he had in fantasy with it. In 104 games, Hill has just 22 extra base hits – including six home runs. Among qualified players in the American League, his .088 Isolated Power (slugging percentage minus batting average) is the ninth worst. Without power, Hill’s .225 average and .270 on-base percentage have failed to provide fantasy owners with an alternative source of production.
Kelly Johnson rebounded from a down season in 2009 (.224/.303/.389) with a solid campaign in 2010 (.284/.370/.496) – his first season in Arizona. He hit a career-high 26 home runs last season with another 41 extra-base hits on top. In 2011, Johnson has regressed in terms of overall production. His power remains solid with 18 home runs and 23 doubles, but he is hitting just .209 and has seen a decrease in walks with an increase in strikeouts.
Although he is moving to a more difficult league and division, Johnson should continue to be the better player going forward – which makes the trade a bit of a head-scratcher for Arizona. While it is true that he is leaving the offensively-friendly environment of Chase Field, he is gaining a pretty good ballpark in the Rogers Centre. His ownership has decreased in recent weeks, but he is still owned in more than half of all eligible leagues. He is a definite pickup in AL-Only formats and could be a nice stretch-run pickup in standard leagues.
Meanwhile, Hill is owned in less than 10% of leagues. Despite the disappointing season he is having, he could see an uptick in offense as he switches to a weaker division and keeps a good-hitting ballpark as his home. In fact, according to Statcorner.com, Chase Field has been a slightly better park for right-handed batters than the Rogers Centre this season. He is a deep, deep, NL-Only play, but could invoke a late season waiver-wire rush with a quick start in the desert.
For more on Hill and Johnson, check out Bloombergsports.com