For a two year span beginning in 2005, Bill Hall was one of baseball’s best kept secrets. At the ages of 25 and 26, Hall combined to hit .280/.344/.525 while averaging 26 home runs and 13 stolen bases. Oh, and he did that while playing parts of four positions — mostly the left side of the infield with some center field and second base thrown in. During those years he accumulated 8.7 WAR. To date, he’s racked up 11.3 wins for his career. Needless to say, Hall’s career hasn’t quite turned out like it could have.
Yet, he’s in his first season with the Boston Red Sox and, through nearly 120 plate appearances, he’s looking sort of like his old self. You don’t even have to squint to see the similarities:
2005: .360 wOBA, .204 ISO, .336 BABIP
2006: .369 wOBA, .283 ISO, .320 BABIP
2010: .366 wOBA, .210 ISO, .317 BABIP
For the most part, 2010 has been a crude hybrid. The crux of Hall’s wOBA is being upheld by a strong walk rate which simply doesn’t reflect as well in his OPS. Still, it’s a bit soon to say the Red Sox have recaptured Hall’s magic — especially given his history of always having one insane month.
In April 2009, Hall posted a .304/.377/.522 line through 77 plate appearances. In July of 2008, Hall batted .288/.350/.548 through 80 plate appearances. There was even June of 2007, when he scorched through 104 plate appearances with slash stats of .307/.388/.523. All of those looked like maybe, just maybe, the rekindling of Hall’s fire, and they all faded quickly. The difference seems to be that this collection of good hitting from Hall is not as dependent on a high batting average on balls in play as those months were.
Given how the Sox’ roster was constructed, even if Hall cannot sustain this performance, they probably won’t regret trading Casey Kotchman for him too much.