Player Profile: Bill Hall

1 03 2008

Sorry about the late start this morning…I had a little trouble with the site. It’s all fixed though, don’t worry! Continuing the Player Profile series, it’s time to move on to the hot corner. The Brewers have had a new face there every year for the past five years. This year, Bill Hall has moved back to the infield and will handle the third base duties for Milwaukee this upcoming season. Let’s take a look at what Billy brings to the table.

Strengths:

Bill Hall brings a lot of pop to the Brewers lineup this season. Only two seasons removed from a 35 home run season, he hopes to regain that power stroke, as his power numbers fell a bit last season (only 14 home runs). To Billy’s defense, there were tons of balls that he hit very hard last season that just happened to be right at somebody. I cannot even count how many times I remember seeing Billy absolutely rip a ball to the outfield, just to be right at someone. Granted, Bill has to “hit ’em where they ain’t,” but it would be a little naive to not mention the fact that Bill was a bit unlucky. Still, Bill has a powerful bat that is fit to play third base. He will not challenge Ryan Braun’s offensive numbers from last year, but Brewers fans were a bit spoiled with Ryan last season. Billy is more than capable.

I’m sure Bill Hall does not want me to mention this, but he is a super-utility man for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has played three different positions for the team in the last three years, but that fact speaks to his defensive versatility. Bill may have not been a fantastic center fielder, but he learned a difficult position fairly quickly last season. With that said, the move back to the infield should serve him very well, as he is more of a natural infielder than an outfielder.

Billy also brings above-average speed to the starting lineup. I have not been able to understand why Ned does not let him run on the bases a little bit more, but Bill is obviously capable of swiping bags. My inclination is to believe that he does not get a very good jump on the pitches, as shown by getting caught more often than not the past two years. Billy’s speed and athleticism will allow him to have a fairly big range at third base, which will help J.J. Hardy (who does not have a very big range). His speed also serves him well on singles. Speed gets you from first to third on a single, or from second to home plate. Those extra bases make a difference throughout an entire season.

Weaknesses:

Bill Hall largely struggles to get on base on a consistent basis. Last season, he only posted a .315 OBP. From a power bat in Milwaukee’s lineup, Billy should be able to draw more walks and simply get on base more often. Much of it comes from his propensity to strike out a LOT (290 strikeouts in the past two years), but he does not draw many walks. Bill only had 40 walks for the Crew in 452 at-bats. Unfortunately, Bill, 28, is not a rookie any longer, so it would be stretching it to say his plate discipline is still improving. There are no signs to think his on-base percentage will increase dramatically this season.

In that same vein, Bill sometimes cannot get the bat on the ball for extended periods of time. Ned Yost benched him last year in the middle of the year because his approach at the plate was getting so bad. Bill had only a .254 batting average last season, and that needs to change for Bill to make a positive impact for the team. He and Jim Skaalen have been working on adjustments in his swing, as Bill tends to get too long and loopy with his swing. His stance will no longer be so incredibly open, which will help him get the bat to the hitting zone much more quickly. Hopefully this helps Bill, as he has the natural talent to be a beast with the bat, but he cannot seem to put it together lately.

Projections:

ZiPS – .270/.336/.475
The Hardball Times – .265/.330/.467

These projections pretty much see the same thing for Bill Hall, a moderate amount of improvement in all categories. I agree with this for the most part, but I unfortunately do not see Billy improving quite so much. He’s had a downward trend in his batting average the past three years, so I don’t necessarily see last year as a complete fluke. He should definitely improve, but I would strongly caution you not to expect another season like the one he had in 2006. Bill has the tools to do that again, though. No question about that.

You can expect his fielding to improve this year, now that he’s back at home in the infield. The large consensus last season was that the rest of Bill’s game suffered as he struggled with his position change to center. I understand that center field is a very difficult position to play, but that is somewhat of a cop-out for Bill simply struggling last season. His swing got too long, and he struck out a lot because of it. Again, expect moderate improvement this season. Billy is a fan favorite because he always has a flair for the dramatic and plays with a “team first” mentality, which Brewers fans love. He’s been through three position changes in three years, and I am rooting for him every step of the way.

Projected Offensive Line: .263/.325/.459
Projected Season Rating (out of 10): 6.9

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15 08 2008
Right Field Bleachers » Blog Archive » In the News

[…] – BrewersNation profiles Braun and Hall. […]

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