Hall Returns to Relevance

After seeing Bill Hall fall from grace in Milwaukee and fail considerably in Seattle, I thought there was a good chance that Hall wouldn’t receive another MLB contract after his four year, $24 million dollar deal expired after the 2010 season. From 2007 to 2009, Hall completely lost his power. He dropped from a 5 win season in 2006 to only 1.6 WAR in 2007. His slide continued until he was below replacement level in 2009, forcing the Brewers to trade him to Seattle for minimal salary relief. Hall presented one of the worst possible fits for Safeco Field, as a right handed hitter with much of his value coming from power. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hall was a complete failure in his short time in the Pacific Northwest.

The Red Sox were willing to take a chance on the versatile Hall, sending out Casey Kotchman in exchange prior to the 2010 season. Fenway Park is a great place for righties to hit – it has a 106 park factor for wOBA – and particularly for those like Hall who live and die with pull power. The Green Monster allowed Hall to slug homers over the Green Monster and doubles off of it. Hall hit 6 2B and 8 HR in only 191 PAs at Fenway this season, compiling a .346 wOBA and 114 wRC+, well above any mark he posted after 2007.

Hall’s performance wasn’t merely the work of Fenway, as he performed nearly equally as well on the road. He posted a .338 wOBA with even more power (10 2B and 10 HR) but an inferior BABIP in the same number of PAs away from Boston. Hall, however, still struggled with the strikeout, ending 30% of his at-bats with that result for the third straight season.¬†Hall’s inability to make contact severely limits¬†his batting average and on-base percentage, and there’s no reason to expect that to change. Even with solid power, Hall is only projected to hit .236/.298/.401 by CHONE for that exact reason.

In those projections, Hall is a 0.1 WAR player – hardly relevant. Those projections consider Hall to be a -1 run corner outfielder, though. Hall has struggled in the corners since moving there with Seattle last season, and is much more likely to be productive at either third or second base. Every system we carry here finds Hall above average for his career at 3B (2003 innings) and within four runs of average at 2B (1120 innings). He even rated near average at SS in 2169 innings. A shift from the corner outfield to an infield position adds about a win to Hall’s value, making him a roughly 1.0 WAR player even if his bat returns to the putrid 2007-2009 state projected by CHONE.

If a team believes that Hall’s resurgence with the bat is real – and I think there is reason to believe so – then they could find a roughly league average player in Hall. I think he deserves a starting position on a second-division team, but he’s probably best served as a super-sub. The Red Sox have interest in bringing him back, and according to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have interest in Hall as well. Any team with an opening in the infield should at least think about Hall as an option. Thanks to a solid 2010 with Boston, Hall’s career has been resurrected, and he should receive a respectable contract in free agency this year.



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