Bill Hall parlayed his solid 2010 with the Boston Red Sox into one last chance at a starting MLB gig. On Friday, Bill Hall signed a one-year deal with a mutual option, guaranteeing the 30-year-old (31 in about a week) $3.25 million dollars. The Astros have said that Hall will be the regular second baseman in Houston.
Hall’s offensive output in 2010 didn’t quite match his banner seasons of 2005 and 2006, but for the first time in three years, Hall was more than a corpse with a bat. He was still susceptible to the strikeout – 31% of at-bats – but his ISO was above .200 for the first time since 2006. Hall slugged 18 home runs and added 16 doubles in only 382 plate appearances. Throw in a 8% walk rate and a .300 BABIP, and Hall was once again an above-average hitter.
Due to the injuries sustained by the Red Sox, Hall was forced to play 64 games in the corner outfield. Not only does the positional adjustment hurt Hall’s final valuation, but the corner outfield is the position on the field (outside of C, 1B, and pitcher) that he is least familiar with. Hall finished with a -7.3 UZR, much of which came from his play in the corner outfield. His overall fielding number in WAR (positional adjustment + defense against average) totaled -8.3, by far the worst number of his career.
Hall is historically a better infielder than an outfielder, although he’s produced both his best work and the most work at the hot corner. Still, Hall was a highly rated shortstop early in his career – particularly with a +5 UZR and even better numbers from other systems in 2006. With a full offseason to prepare for full-time work at second base, there is reason to believe that he can at least be an average fielding second baseman.
Minute Maid Park’s short porch in left field is designed perfectly for Hall’s batting profile – a pull-heavy right hander. The park has a 117 HR factor for right handed batters according to StatCorner.com. In a park that plays well to his skillset, and with a certain position for the first time since 2008, there’s reason to believe that Hall can produce at second base for the Astros in 2010. The situation works out perfectly for both teams: the Astros get a low-risk stopgap in a rebuilding time, and Hall gets a chance to build some value for one last push at another multi-year contract.