Bill Hall was really good for a couple of years. It's true. He was worth 3.4 fWAR in 2005. And then in 2006 he provided 5.1 fWAR. He hit 35 home runs that year! But then he crashed back to Earth in 2007 with a 1.7 fWAR. Back then most of us just thought it was a down year. He'd been getting better in each of the three seasons prior. Surely he was going to bounce back in 2008. Unfortunately that wasn't the case.
The 2008 season will go down in Brewers history as one of the most meaningful. They made the postseason for the first time in 26 years. Everyone that was a Brewers fan that year probably remembers where they were when they watched them secure that playoff spot. I'm sure the season as a whole is a good memory for Bill Hall too. But he probably doesn't want to remember specifics.
He played second and third base for the Brewers that year with average defense at both spots. So he did help the team. But he hit a paltry 225/293/396. That was equal to a 79 wRC+, or 21% below league average. He was worth 0.7 WAR to the Brewers which is just above replacement level. He did still hit 15 home runs that year, including his 85th. That came on the 8th game of the year.
On April 9th the Brewers faced off against the Cincinnati Reds. Josh Fogg started for the Reds and Dave Bush for the Brewers. It was a pretty close game until the 6th inning. Going in the Brewers had a 3-2 lead. Brandon Phillips, Adam Dunn, Scott Hatteberg, and now Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr combined to give the Reds a 5-3 lead. Then things started getting out of hand.
By the end of the top half of the 9th inning the Reds would increase their lead 12-3. But the Brewers weren't done yet! Bill Hall would lead off the Brewers half of the inning with a tower shot bring the Brewers within 8 runs...then they were done. They lost 12-4. But hey, you win some, you lose some. And Bill Hall still got to add another home run to his career stat line.
Unfortunately that stat line would never look as good as we all hoped it would after that staggering 2006 season. He hit 270/345/553 that year! I guess it's just a good reminder that baseball is a hard game to play. But that's part of what makes it so much fun to watch. When a guy does have a break out year it can feel pretty amazing. Maybe we'll see that happen this year. That's a question that will begin to be answered just a short 85 days from now!