In an interview last week with David Laurila, Diamondbacks hitting coach Don Baylor talked about Aaron Hill. Hill has, of course, revitalized his career since joining Arizona. Everyone wants to know how he did it. Here's what Baylor said:
DL: Who made a notable adjustment last year?
DB: Aaron Hill. He had come over from Toronto the year before. They had kind of given up on him. He had hit 30-something homers for the Blue Jays. The ball jumps off his bat for a little guy. You think you’re going to throw the ball by him, but you can’t.
[The adjustment was with] his hand position. Guys have to get their hands in the right spot. Once he found that right spot, he was off and running. It was just a little thing with him. His swing is easy to fix.
While there's no reason to doubt Baylor, I decided to look it up anyway. Sure enough, Hill has adjusted his hand placement. He went from holding his hands at about face-level to holding them at his helmet. He's also changed his bat angle. These camera angles aren't perfect but here's what I mean:
In theory we would expect these changes to improve Hill's bat control while costing him bat whip. Hill's contact rates have declined from his Toronto days since joining Arizona, but he has improved his power production. Perhaps Hill has improved on his ability to barrel-up balls as a result of the changes. The Diamondbacks—having signed Hill to a costly extension earlier in the winter—hope so.