Huff Returns to The Beanstalk

Three weeks ago, I wrote that the Giants needed to avoid overcompensating the free agents from their World Series team. Today, they re-signed Aubrey Huff for two years and $22 million (with a club option for a third year). Although the Contract Crowdsourcing series had Huff valued two years, $16 million, did the Giants do well in what (seems) to be an inflated market?

Huff’s recent career arc is a weird one. His win values over the last four years (starting with 2010): 5.7, -1.4, 4.0, and 0.7. In more generic labels, his last four seasons have represented those of an elite player, a below replacement level player, a star, and a below average player. All that volatility despite ridiculously consistent plate appearance numbers (668, 597, 661, and 603) is unheard of. A 5-4-3 weighing has Huff at three wins; factor in aging (among other variables) and he should be good for somewhere between two and three wins.

In a deflated market, one where a win costs four million or so, Huff playing to the lower end of that projected rate would not be worth an annual average salary of $11 million. In this market, though, where the cost of a win might be closer to five million, such an occurrence is plausible. Admittedly, the best part of the deal – speaking purely from a worst-case scenario perspective – is the relatively short length. (The option clause for a third year is a nice touch, too). The salary prevents it from being a failsafe deal, but for a free agent coming off a five-win season that’s a more worthwhile concession than too many years.

All and all, this seems like a reasonable contract for both parties. Huff gets some security and cash, but not enough of either to make Sabean appear hungover from the celebration.




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71 Responses to “Huff Returns to The Beanstalk”

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  1. Austin says:

    Crowdsourcing actually had him at 2.2 years for $8.8 million per year, so you should probably say “two years, $18 million” instead of “two years, $16 million.” I’m a bit surprised that he signed for quite this much; I would have put him down for the Crowdsourced deal of $18 million, or perhaps $20 million considering the World Series victory.

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  2. Ed says:

    Huff actually became a better player in the offseason. I cant remember where I saw it but when he didnt get any offers except from the Giants he knew he couldnt be a DH and dropped a bunch of weight and got back in good shape. I’m sure that had something to do with his success last year. As a Giants fan I hope he sticks to the program this offseason.

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    • puffy says:

      He’s better than his career numbers. This is what happens to people sometimes when they become millionaires overnight. Word has it that he likes his partying. I certainly do not blame him.

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    • Jason B says:

      “Huff actually became a better player in the offseason. He…dropped a bunch of weight and got back in good shape.”

      Yeah but we hear that about so, so many players every offseason. Was it this site that compiled the list of players that we heard those “he’s in the best shape of his life!” stories from last offseason from one source or another? I think there was little correlation to improved performance on average IIRC.

      (Not saying it can’t be true in individual cases, just that one should take those stories with a heavy dose of salt. More often than not it’s local beat writers idly speculating or filling space.)

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      • Bhaakon says:

        I don’t know. I think it may suggest what might already be deduced by the, er, wide variety of body types in baseball: that fitness level has little correlation to success in many important baseball abilities. There’s probably some correlation in so far as being in peak physical condition and developing the skills necessary to perform at the highest level both require extreme-to-insane levels of dedication, but most of the talents required in baseball (visual acuity that would make an eagle jealous, ungodly hand-eye coordination, split-microsecond reflexes, the unusual physiology to throw a 90 MPH+ fastball) have little or not connection to conditioning.

        Of course, defense is another matter.

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    • Jonathan says:

      wow really….I think you’re a little blinded by being a Giants fan. Guys at his age don’t suddenly become better players. It’s more likely he had an outlier year. I don’t think conditioning has much to do with how he performed this year.

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      • We are not being blinded by being a Giants fan. I did not hear about this from Huff, it was one of his former coaches, when asked in an interview what the Giants fans can expect from Huff, noted that Huff was getting old enough where he couldn’t sit around during the off-season and be assured of being fit enough for the season, so he got himself into shape for the first time. (But I generally agree that such stories are typical fluff, there was one about Rowand getting into “shape” by riding a mountain bike everyday…) I think having a former coach say that is more legit than the player saying it, he has no reason to say something complimentary or positive.

        Also, he did not become a better hitter. His hitting in 2010 is within the bounds of his career range. His BABIP was slightly elevated but close to career average. His other ratios were all within his career range, other than an elevated walk rate. Unlike 2009 when his BABIP was wildly low for his career when he was with Detroit.

        And Huff did not become a millionaire overnight. He’s made $35M (or was it $45M?) over his career already, so he’s just adding to his pile.

        Regarding how fitness might be connected to how well you do in baseball, while generally that is a true statement that the main baseball skills are not related to fitness, baseball is a 162 game grind (around 175 if go deep into playoffs, plus spring training), and that is where fitness comes in, being able to show your top abilities and skills deeper into the season than your opposing teams. You may be the fastest runner off the line or even over the first half of the race, but it is the athletes who are most fit who will win the marathon.

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  3. Dan Pitrowiski says:

    As much s*** as we give the “best shape of his life” stories, there must be some truth to it.

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    • Travis says:

      Didn’t one of the FG authors track (preseason) which players reported to camp in “best shape of his life”? I’d be curious to compare them to the control group for 2010 numbers.

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  4. Fergie348 says:

    Huff’s defensive versatility will be key in evaluating this deal down the road. If the only position he could play is 1st base, this deal makes no sense. The Giants have one fielding prospect knocking on the door (Brandon Belt), and he’s a 3. If mr. rally thong can capably play left field for us for the next couple years, this deal makes sense.

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    • bzl says:

      Belt can play OF as well…has good speed….

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      • Evan says:

        And a good arm considering he was drafted twice as a pitcher

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      • Apparently not so good, else the Giants would continue to tout him as a potential LF starter. Sabean said in his post-season conference call that Belt will be only playing 1B.

        And Snow has said that Belt is the best defensive 1B in the Giants system (not sure if he meant to include majors too, so I’m assuming minors for now), which he should know.

        I think the key difference is that he can probably play 1B for good defensive value while he probably did not look that natural playing LF, else they would continue to say that he could end up in LF.

        But yeah, good speed, good arm, would sound like a natural for OF, don’t it, particularly RF.

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  5. cs3 says:

    “Word has it that he likes his partying. I certainly do not blame him.”

    anyone who was in SF for the giants world series victory parade could attest to this… the only player with a beer in hand for the entire parade.

    as a giants fan im glad to have him back, but also happy with the relatively short term deal

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  6. Scout Finch says:

    Judging by this contract, I believe the crowdsourcing for Juan Uribe will be deflated as well.

    He’ll probably come in closer to 2/16 than 2/12. That should put a cap on the World Series Champs’ offseason.

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  7. Andrew says:

    I think this is a totally fair deal, especially when considering the inflated value of wins, as mentioned in the article.

    I’m sure he’ll move to the outfield sometime this year when Brandon Belt becomes a regular at 1B. I’m still a little concerned about his decline, which is going to appear even worse because he’s a lefty at AT&T.

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    • Bigmouth says:

      I completely agree, Andrew.

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    • Scout Finch says:

      Might be more likely to move Belt to first given his reported athleticism.

      Lots of versatility. Sure worked wonders last season.

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      • Scout Finch says:

        read -“more likely to move Belt to left field”

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      • quincy0191 says:

        Belt apparently isn’t very good in the outfield. He’s got good speed, and a good arm, so this doesn’t make much sense, but from what I’ve heard from the big prospect guys on MCC, Belt’s a natural first baseman who just doesn’t look comfortable in left. Huff, on the other hand, was able to play it capably for awhile. I’d bet Huff makes the move.

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  8. Mark says:

    Supposedly the structure of the deal is $10m per season with a $10m option or $2m buyout. That’s where the $22m comes from.

    So potentially it could be 3/$30m, which isn’t that bad, although I would bet dollars to doughnuts that they buy out that third year.

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    • Fonzie scheme says:

      i think they overpaid a little but as far the 3rd year, essentially they’d be paying him $8 mil since the other $2 is already spent. if Huff puts up something like .280 avg with 20 HR and 80 RBI the next couple of years, which seems possible(50/50?) i could see them keeping him for the 3rd year.

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  9. Wouldn’t the worst case scenario be that the Giants blocked a better hitter (and possibly fielder) who has a very close-to-the-bigs bat?

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    • bzl says:

      how? Huff can play either corner OF position and worst case maybe even some 3B…(yeah i know he couldn’t possibly play 3B any more but going into 2010 he was supposed to be terrible at 1B defensively)…and Belt can play corner OF as well…

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      • David says:

        when he was with the Orioles he played a little bit of 3B, didn’t look terrible out there. I mean I wouldn’t want him to play 150 games there, but like 50-60 at 3rd, 50 at 1B, a handful in the corner OF and DH… would be bearable I think.

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      • Jonathan says:

        he was terrible at 1B. don’t you think it’s more likely that (as UZR tends to do) he had an outlier year with the defensive metrics? He’s been terrible every year at 1B every year he’s had a reasonable sample size. Huff is a trainwreck in RF but apparently the metrics like him in LF in a limited sample.

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      • Wow says:

        @ Jonathan(for some reason there’s no “Reply” button to his post): not sure what the stat nerds say but Giant fans seem to think he played quite well at 1B and decent in the OF as well.

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      • quincy0191 says:

        Huff played well defensively this year. He’s not going to win any Gold Gloves, and he had a pretty terrible misplay in the World Series, but he also had that excellent dive to grab a bad throw and then was smart enough to go back and tag Kinsler out when he started toward second. Overall he was at least solid; he’s probably not going to save many runs, but he won’t be giving many away either. He’s also good enough in the outfield to start in left regularly, and in right in emergencies (but with SF’s OF depth that won’t be necessary). If last season was any indication, his defensive ineptitude has been way overblown. And it’s not like he gets that many chances to mess up anyway; he’s a 1B, even if he were bad defensively, he won’t be losing a lot of games on defense.

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      • Jonathan says:

        reply to wow

        I didn’t write that well. I meant overall in his career he’s been bad at 1B, not necessarily this year though. I didn’t see him enough to get a decent sample size of his defense. So in that case I’m going to assume his defense didn’t change wildly. We all know UZR isn’t that reliable and we’re talking about a 1 year outlier. And of course Giants fans say he played good defense. It’s the same reason Red Sox fans say Ellsbury should be a gold glover. A guy who has been consistently rated a butcher rarely if ever turns into a good defense player overnight.

        to quincy

        that is a tiny sample size. did you get to see him regularly this year and compare it to any others? I’d love to hear from someone who has seen him in a decent sample size last year and the rest of his career. He seems to be good in LF atrocious in the infield and passable for a few games in RF. Can i ask what OFers you’re counting on as depth? Torres/Ross and who? Are you assuming Burrell comes back or are you counting Rowand? I just don’t like the deal. He had a MASSIVE outlier season on defense and offense and paying for a career year when there are so many quality 1B bats that you probably could have had for less is a poor strategy. Take a look at this, it’s worse than I imagined. According to Bill James’s projections for 2011, this is how other free agent 1B compare to Huff. This is obviously flawed but just an indicator.

        Huff .349 wOBA
        DLee .367 wOBA
        Berkman .386 wOBA
        Laroche .350 wOBA
        Pena .359 wOBA
        Konerko .372 wOBA
        Branyan .350 wOBA
        Dunn .383 wOBA
        Overbay .342 wOBA
        N. Johnson .374 w OBA

        we’re talking about EIGHT FA 1B that are projected to hit better than him next year and most of them have a superior defensive track record. Branyan and Johnson are major injury risks so you can understand that. Dunn is probably going to get considerably more $$ and years so you can cross him off. So you’re left with Laroche/Konerko/Pena/Berkman/Lee and Overbay that are comparable and all but Overbay have a MUCH longer track record of success and are better defenders. Do you think any of them besides maybe Konerko can top $22 MM? There are going to be some lucky teams that have Pena/Berkman/Lee possibly fall in their laps for a 1 year deal and they’re likely to outperform Huff on offense and defense. On the other hand, no one has ever accused Sabean of being able to put an offense together. They really should try and package Rowand off for another bad contract and see if they can hit lightning in a bottle like the Cubs did with Silva.

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      • durs836 says:

        Jonathan have you forgotten the offense Sabean put together 2000-2004? He made the trade for Kent and assembled some great offenses around Bonds. If anything up until a few years ago, one SHOULD have accused Sabean of having no sense of assembling a decent staff.

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  10. Joe S. says:

    To Brandon;

    I believe Belt has been playing 1B and OF……same as Huff. Surely the Giants have factored this in. And with regrads to Belt, this gives them a little flexibility to ease him in and not be dependent on big numbers out of the gate. All young players develop at different rates……not everyone comes in and rakes like Posey.

    As many people have stated above, its not always the money that makes a deal bad, its usually the years. Imagine if Rowand had been signed at 3 yrs/36 instead of 5/60. We would be done with him. or if Zito were 5/90 instead of 7/126. This would be his last year. Kudos on getting the deal done at 2 years.

    I predict someone will offer Uribe 3 or more years and the Giants will pass.

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  11. DrBGiantsfan says:

    The key to this deal is something you can’t measure with stats. Whether Huff will continue the conditioning regimen that produced this last season. Anybody who says conditioning didn’t play a huge role in his success last season just hasn’t paid much attention to Huff’s career. I think by Huff’s own admission, being on a team that had a chance to contend for the postseason was a huge psychological boost for him too. That’s another thing he’ll have to maintain, the hunger for winning. He does those things and it’s a great contract for the Giants.

    BTW, the Giants went higher than they were planning to with Huff because they had to match another team’s offer. If two teams were willing to pay that price, then I think you have to say that is the market price for Aubrey Huff!

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    • Graham says:

      @DrBGiantsfan and others — I actually think you’re making a bit too much out of the conditioning thing. Huff spent the bulk of the year at the defensive position where conditioning is least important. He ran well throughout the year, but I wouldn’t say he legged out a ton of infield hits — and he’s always run pretty well. As for the long-term view of conditioning, he did slump precipitously in the second half. Not saying his conditioning didn’t help with, say, bat speed — but I think it’s a big mistake to attribute the majority of Huff’s resurgence to a renewed commitment to physical fitness.

      If a statistical explanation for this resurgence is needed, plate discipline seems the obvious choice. Huff posted career highs in pitches per plate appearance and walk percentage, and obliterated his former career high in OBP. He was, by his own admission, more concerned than ever before with swinging at pitches he could do something with, and taking others.

      And, though I know it isn’t quantifiable, I do agree that the mental context — finally playing for a winner, playing in a great city where he was appreciated — played an enormous role.

      Anyway, I’m glad to have him back. I said 3/18 on Uribe and I’m sticking by it. And it’ll be with the Giants.

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      • Fonzie scheme says:

        have you ever lifted weights or done some serious training? it can make a big difference if you put the effort in and have the body type that allows you to add some muscle and strength. When i was about 22 years old i weight trained seriously for about 3 months and my bench press went from 225 to 315…that’s in 90 days…(no steroids btw)…but its hard work…

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      • Fonzie scheme says:

        btw, we’ve seen what steroids can do for players like Bonds and ManRam so why in the world would you downplay the effect that getting in good shape could have had on Huff’s performance in 2010? i’m talking about offensive performance as just some jogging or running would be enough to keep anyone in decent shape to play in the field.

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      • Graham says:

        @Fonzie — No one would ever dream of making the argument that intensive physical training can’t have a big impact on athletic performance. What I AM saying is that thereare quantifiable ways of explaining Huff’s great season — there’s no need for any pie-in-the-sky speculation. Part of the reason that I’m bringing this up is because there’s no real way to prove that Huff suddenly decided to take conditioning seriously last season; the thing is, while I never discounted that being in good shape may have helped him, I find the whole “best shape of his life” canard overly simplistic. (I’ll remind you of all the ink spilled about Aaron Rowand also being in “the best shape of his life” coming into 2010 — how did that work out for him?) Are we to believe that Huff’s six-win swing from 2009 to 2010 was just a matter of him getting in better shape? What about the other great years he’s had in the past — just luck, or maybe he only committed to fitness every two or three years?

        My point was pretty straightforward: conditioning may have helped him (in fact, it almost surely did), but I don’t think it’s the primary cause of his success. Actually, I’d be shocked if a sudden commitment to conditioning was the reason for ANY athlete’s breakout. Conditioning helps, but refining one’s approach and even the vagaries of chance are also quite plausible explanations for why athletes can see major fluctuations in their performance from year to year.

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      • Boy, a saber site and nobody mentions it: Huff had an extreme outlier season in 2009 with his BABIP. He was doing OK in Baltimore, but when he went to Detroit, his BABIP fell off the cliff.

        If you examine his 2010 season, as noted above, the only real outlier was that his walk rate was the highest it had ever been by a wide margin (12.4% vs. previous high of 10%). In fact, it was higher in each month than his career high of 10% many seasons back. And it was significantly higher in July and August, (15.4% and 14.4%) in the games right after Posey started hitting behind him, before falling to 10.7%. So if it was a fluke, he fluked it all season.

        Maybe he was the first player who took to heart that the Giants wanted more on-base percentage from their players? I mean, that bunt he did was perfect, looked like he’s been doing that all his career, but it was his first bunt in the majors ever, apparently (or first successful one).

        As far as slumps go, I wouldn’t say that he slumped “precipitously” in the second half. He still hit .284/.385/.462/.847, which is still pretty good. Where he slumped was the month of August, before rebounding to a good (but not great) September: .283/.372/.462/.834

        I also agree that playing on a winner helps with one’s attitude at doing their job. Being happy at work is very important, I believe, because you spend so much time of your life related to work, whether going to and from, and of course, the work itself. That gets more intensive when you are basically living with your co-workers for nine months of the year. Of course, a good F-U group attitude can help push a team to greatness (many note the battling A’s of early 70’s) but I think happiness and good team chemistry is a better and more reliable and consistent way to greatness (just see Billy Martin’s record for the ups and downs of an F-U attitude).

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    • Scout Finch says:

      I think when all is said and done with the remaining 1B contracts, this deal will be about right.

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    • odbsol says:

      @DrBGiantsfan
      “I think by Huff’s own admission, being on a team that had a chance to contend for the postseason was a huge psychological boost for him too. That’s another thing he’ll have to maintain, the hunger for winning. He does those things and it’s a great contract for the Giants.”

      Tell that to the Tigers in 2009 who lost in a play-in game v. MN. Huff was horrific down the stretch even though they were in a post-season race all year.

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      • Joe S. says:

        I wouldn’t say Huff slumped in the second half of 2010. His post All-Star OPS was .847 and overall was .891. I’ll take an .847 OPS as a slump.

        Crowdsource had Huff at 2/19 so this “overpay” represents the thin market. I would rather have Huff at 2/22 than Crawford or Werth at 5-6 years and 18+ per year.

        Don’t be surprised if someone goes as high as 3/25 with Uribe and outbids the Giants.

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      • Scott says:

        When Huff was traded to Houston he didn’t do horribly but he didn’t exactly light it up either. Id dare say they were a contending team since they went to the WS that year.

        When Huff played for the Orioles in 08, he posted career high numbers and one of his best season ever, all for a town he called “horse shit”, for fans who didn’t like him and on a team that came in last place. I’m not sure i buy any of the conditioning or mental explanations that are being peddled.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Whatever it was about playing in SF, Huff was enthusiastic about it from day 1. He was just gushing about playing for the Giants and proclaiming how great it was to play for a contender as early as April. To Giants fans who had been listening to Aaron Rowand bitch and moan about how many HR’s the park cost him for 2 years, that was pretty heavy stuff. As a Giants fan who has lived through a lot of complaining from players about the team, ballpark, city, whatever, you will have a tough time convincing me that Huff’s attitude adjustment didn’t play a huge role in his performance as well as the team finally winning it all.

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      • Jonathan says:

        dude…drbgiantsfan. your posts are RIDICULOUS!!! The guy was on his way to a minor league deal before you guys gave him the $3MM. It was a HUGE overpay at the time and the Giants really lucked out that he had a good year. But common. Use some common sense. When a guy is almost forced to retire and instead gets a guaranteed deal he’s happy. Have you ever heard a guy sign a FA contract and then start bashing the team and city? Your blinds are on TIGHT. His “attitude” had nothing to do with any of his performance and to say otherwise is just mind boggling.

        Another huge point you keep forgetting. You keep saying he was happy to be playing on a contender in April and in the off season. Uh, EVERYONE is a contender in April, even though hardly anybody predicted the Giants to win the division. Thank your lucky stars the McCourt divorce killed the Dodgers. The guy had a major outlier season in every way and i’m sure there are more factors than we can imagine that made the difference, but being in SF, his attitude towards the city, and all other crazy stuff you’ve been spewing. If it were as easy as gushing about your new team to get a 6 win swing, don’t you think every FA would do it? Cliff Lee would have like a 13 WAR if he gushes about NY/WAS etc. Just be happy all the stars aligned for you to win the world series and if you honestly believe the stuff you’re saying, you should probably keep it to yourself on this site.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Not every player rescued off the scrap heap comes in with a great attitude. You don’t have to look any further than Jose Guillen to know that! Huff came to the Giants with a totally remade body from conditioning and a great attitude. I happen to think both contributed to his great season and to the Giants great season.

        There are a lot of players who SAY they are in the best shape of their lives, the difference for Huff is he really was in the best shape of his life.

        One big problem with a lot of posters on this site is they are so wedded to the idea that everything is due to luck and sample sizes, they fail to look for any other reason for anything!

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      • odbsol, it is one thing to be part of a team from the beginning and another to come in as a mercenary. Detroit might have been winning, but if they did nothing to make him feel a part of the group, then that would be detrimental to him jumping in as an outsider and trying to contribute.

        Again, people miss that in small sampling in Detroit, his BABIP was horrible. Maybe it was the park – it was a heavy pitcher’s park for years like AT&T, maybe there is an adjustment period and he didn’t have enough time to do that there, or nobody to show him the tricks of the trade.

        Here’s another datapoint: for his career, he has been much worse a hitter in the first half vs. the second half. That could suggest that he didn’t watch his fitness previously and thus often was catching up with other players in the beginning of the season, thus having a letdown in terms of performance. Being fit would help him therefore start with a running start instead of being behind.

        And Joe mentioned his .847 post-All-Star OPS, which happens to be very close to his career, .293/.354/.497/.852 in the second half. So if anything, he was just returning to his career norms in the second half, not falling.

        To Jonathan, you should examine the numbers, Huff did not have an outlier season in 2010. Most of his ratios were right in range of his career numbers previously, other than walk rate, which was clearly out there. So that might drop, plus there might be a slight drop in BABIP as well, it was slightly above career, but taking those away probably only drops him to mid-800 OPS. That is still a very good OPS.

        Lastly, I am happy that the stars aligned, but you act like that’s a new thing. The stars align for every team that wins the World Series, in one way or another. Some more than others, true, but there is always that element of luck. So if you want to denigrate their achievement, go ahead, but you muck up all the prior winners as well with your brush.

        However, the Giants have something that minimizes the luck and maximizes their chances: a great pitching staff that strikes out a lot of batters (which minimizes luck). A staff we control for at least the next two seasons, if not more. A staff of aces that any team would be happy to have two of, but we have four. With a very dominant closer.

        And you talk about keeping it to yourself on this site. This site is all about the stats. Yet you say a lot but don’t use any stats. Here’s some statistical analysis for you: two leading analyst websites (Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times) studied what it took to go deep into the playoffs. Both found that offense contributes nothing, it is defense – pitching and fielding – that gets a team deep. Here’s the stats as BP saw it in their book: the teams that went deepest into the playoffs had three characteristics that helped them get there, a pitching staff with a high K/9 rate, a closer with a high WRXL, and a good defense (using their defensive metric).

        The Giants rated high in all those stats in 2010, and look to rate high as long as they have this pitching rotation of young pitchers and their closer, plus keep the defense going with good players. That’s why I’ve been saying that the 2010’s is going to be known as the Giants decade. Their core of young players will keep this going for a number of years, and hopefully Neukom will keep to his word to find the money to do the right thing baseball-wise, and not have to trade players to save money. Then you supplement with some vets along the way, much like the Yankees did in in the late 90’s with key players that they picked up while Sabean was their scouting director.

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      • Oops, see your stats in below post, sorry Jonathan! Still, it would help if you used stats to state your case of outlier. 2009 is the outlier, not 2010.

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  12. Joe S. says:

    Scott:

    I hear ya. Its all a calculated risk. There are so guarantees in baseball. A handful of guys (Pujols, Mauer, etc) throw up consistent numbers, but a lot of guys are up and down. The Giants are taking the risk that over the next two years they get the 2008/2010 guy. Again, I would rather take that risk than to hope Crawford or Werth is worth $25M in 2016.

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  13. Kriz says:

    I like the deal. They really aren’t over paying by much considering what he was worth (and what they paid him) last season. He’s become a fan favorite and I think he genuinely like playing in SF. If he stays in shape and puts up similar numbers playing 3 positions it’s money well spent.

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  14. cs3 says:

    “Wouldn’t the worst case scenario be that the Giants blocked a better hitter (and possibly fielder) who has a very close-to-the-bigs bat?”

    considering Burrell was the everyday (terrible) LF for the second half of the season and the playoffs, the worst case is that Huff plays LF ~60% of the time and their OF defense is as good or slightly better than last year.

    this is assuming that the giants dont resign Burrell

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    • Wow says:

      Burrell wasn’t terrible…he wasn’t too good defensively but he won a lot of games for them with The Bat..

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      • cs3 says:

        i meant terrible defensively. i know he hit fairly well.
        my point was that theres not really any fear of “blocking a better hitter” as Brandon suggests, because if Belt (the guy hes worried about being blocked) shows hes ready for big league action he could play first base, huff goes back to LF where he was better offensively AND defensively than burrell.

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      • Wow says:

        ah, you’re right cs3 – i need to brush up on my reading skills, my apologies.

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  15. The Wisdom Cow says:

    Can’t stat his locker room presence, that and the fact that some of those $ are for last season (good will vs. fan uprising – couldn’t let someone else sign him for less, unless they went 3 yrs). I like the deal. It is similar to what many were saying back in September, 2yr at 12mil per.

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  16. fierrpawz says:

    Really what options did the Giants have? Huff was the best option at the right price and they locked him up early in what is a thin FA year:

    Huff L 30+ yo. 10M/2 yr. Cost them no draft picks. Even if he regresses, this is not a bad contract. If he performs well, it is a good deal. At 2 years, there is no real risk even if he tanks. There is also a reward factor here for taking 3M last year and proving himself. He is also tradable @10M/yr if Belt goes best case. Giants need left handed batters.

    Pena L Also 30+ yo. 10M+/1 year? Career worst year. Just as many risks as Huff, so why would you not sign a guy who is high on your organization? Pena is the best comp out there, and considering the all or nothing options out there, a bidding war will erupt. Maybe he doesn’t block Belt, but there is no OF option.

    Dunn L Also 30+ yo. 10M+ /4+ years No chance of accepting anything less than 4 year contract. Fielding more a liability than Huff. This would block Bradon Belt, and the Gaints give up draft picks. No deal.

    Martinez S Also 30+ yo. 12M/4+ years? Will want too many years at too high $$. For what? 1 more win? Would block Brandon Belt. Also do not need to pay premium for catching skills with Posey, Panda, and Whiteside all C. No deal.

    Konerko R 30+ yo. ?/? Also had a year well above average. No OF option. But what is his value over Huff? None. Less than Huff last year, and equal if not less than Huff over the past 5.

    Any other dregs would be less value than Huff @ 10M. LaRouche? Lee? Berkman?

    This contract is right on if you consider market factors. Especially if it proves out there were other offers, and Huff said all I ask is that you match them.

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    • Jonathan says:

      He had a MASSIVE outlier season on defense and offense and paying for a career year when there are so many quality 1B bats that you probably could have had for less is a poor strategy. Take a look at this, it’s worse than I imagined. According to Bill James’s projections for 2011, this is how other free agent 1B compare to Huff. This is obviously flawed but just an indicator.

      Huff .349 wOBA
      DLee .367 wOBA
      Berkman .386 wOBA
      Laroche .350 wOBA
      Pena .359 wOBA
      Konerko .372 wOBA
      Branyan .350 wOBA
      Dunn .383 wOBA
      Overbay .342 wOBA
      N. Johnson .374 w OBA

      we’re talking about EIGHT FA 1B that are projected to hit better than him next year and most of them have a superior defensive track record. Branyan and Johnson are major injury risks so you can understand that. Dunn is probably going to get considerably more $$ and years so you can cross him off. So you’re left with Laroche/Konerko/Pena/Berkman/Lee and Overbay that are comparable and all but Overbay have a MUCH longer track record of success and are better defenders. Do you think any of them besides maybe Konerko can top $22 MM? There are going to be some lucky teams that have Pena/Berkman/Lee possibly fall in their laps for a 1 year deal and they’re likely to outperform Huff on offense and defense.

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    • Jonathan says:

      dude have you ever watched baseball or are you so blinded by being a giants fan that you actually believe what you just wrote. Aubrey Huff had one outlier season and all of a sudden you think he’s this huge stud. Lee/Berkman/Branyan/Laroche/Konerko/Dunn/Pena/Nick Johnson all are projected to have a better season next year than Huff!!! not to mention all but Dunn are better defenders as well! I’ll throw in the “dreck” Berkman for you.

      Konerko…what is his upside over Huff….um ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. Here are some stats for you since you claim that Huff was better last year and in a 5 year period. Huff wins in WAR from last year. However, if you take it into context, it is clear to see a lot of his value came from an outlier UZR year at 1B that was most likely incorrect.

      Huff Career: .283/.345/.476 wOBA .350 19.5 WAR 2 years 30+HR
      Konerko .280/.356/.498 wOBA .366 29 WAR 6 years 30+HR 2 yrs 40+ HR
      Berkman .296/.409/.545 wOBA .403 56.2 WAR 5 yrs 30+HR 2 yrs 40+ HR
      Last 5 years: Huff 10.3 WAR
      Konerko 14.3 WAR

      Career UZR at 1B:

      Huff -3.0
      Konerko-2.2 But taking both into context it took two HUGE outliers for both of them to make it even this close. Konerko was -14 last year when he’s been 4.4 total over the 5 years before that. Huff was a 9.7 this year when the 5 years before that (not counting 3 games with the Astros) his total UZR was -48.6!!!!
      Berkman 3.1

      So there you have it. Even with the classic UZR outlier seasons Konerko is clearly the superior player and has proven it vs tougher competition in the AL. He’s a better hitter and a better fielder.

      Lance Berkman is a HOF caliber player that doesn’t get the respect he deserves. If you take out last years wOBA (because of the knee injuries and surgeries and then another leg surgery while switching leagues for the first time and becoming a platoon player) his LOWEST wOBA in a full season is .383. Aubrey Huff’s best season? Last year at .388. So there’s that dreck Berkman. You could have done at least a little research or asked someone that knew about these players before writing that. I mean we’re on fangraphs…there are stats everywhere.

      On top of that, Berkman/Lee/Pena are also better fielders and hitters. The guy had one outlier year out of nowhere. He isn’t terrible but in a market with so many better 1B available this is a very poor move.

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      • durs836 says:

        I think his point was more that Huff can be shifted around the field if need be (i.e. doesnt block Belt if they want to call him up) which is something only Berkman gives you.

        Also while i get where you were going with Huff’s 2010 being an outlier in a mostly slightly above average career, your point about UZR is a little deceiving. Aside from last year Huff has only spent more than 50 games at 1B three times… of your -48.6, -32.6 came from two seasons where he spent a total of 35 games at 1B. Now I’m not arguing whether or not Huff is a glove wizard at first because he’s not (probably about average or slightly below average). Whether it was him getting in shape, knowing he was going to THE 1B for his new team (not playing all over the field which he ended up doing anyway) or his work with JT Snow through the offseason, Huff put in a lot of work last offseason which may play a part in why his numbers went up.

        Now I’ll agree 100% that comparing Huff to Berkman is laughable because a down year for Berkman is probably an average year for Huff but Huff is no slouch… 3 bad seasons (one of which being his rookie year), where the rest are mostly above average, I think this is a solid deal considering all the intangibles he brought to this team. I know the crowd here gets tired of hearing about the intangibles or clubhouse presence because its not measurable, but for those that followed this team out of ST know that guys like Huff and Burrell played a huge part in the incredible team chemistry which I certainly believe was the key to them winning the WS.

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      • durs836 makes a great point that has not been pointed out in rebuttal to Jonathan, that most of the players Jonathan noted as “better” are not better in the Giants context because Sabean has committed to bringing up Brandon Belt to the majors playing 1B (not LF) when he is ready, whether it is spring or mid-season.

        That’s what knowing something more about the team in question helps with the analysis greatly.

        Lastly, while Berkman has been a much better hitter over his career, he’ll be 35 years old, coming off two injury shortened seasons, who is to say that he’s going to be coming back to playing 150 games a season again anytime soon? His BABIP has been subpar for two straight years now, lower than any other seasons in his career, and declining. He was also striking out at one of his worse rates ever in his career while at Houston, and still among his worse ever for the season, and at a below good rate (ideally want 15% or lower).

        That’s also partly why I find your list laughable, I wouldn’t touch Nick Johnson with a 10 foot stick, luckily he turned down the Giants last off-season. Yes, luck, all teams have luck, but the Giants have a good core that’s going to get them return trips.

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      • Wow says:

        Huff’s OPS+

        2008 – 137
        2009 – 81 (ouch)
        2010 – 138

        i’m not sure why 2010 is supposed to be the HUGE HUGE outlier.
        i do think they may have overpaid though as 2 for $16 seems like it would have been fair. we shall see what happens though.

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  17. Wow says:

    what is Burrell worth then if Huff gets roughly $10 million a year? yeah he stunk it up in most of the playoffs but for half a season with the Giants he was as good as Huff. can they sign Burrell for $2 or $3 million?

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  18. Kazinski says:

    As long as the Giants have enough cash to keep their pitchers happy, then this deal shouldn’t hurt them too badly, even if they are over paying a little.

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  19. GiantsFan14 says:

    Yessss what a hella bargain!

    Go Giants!

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  20. Sasha Grey says:

    Why don’t they report these contracts for what they really are, btw?

    in reality this is a 2 year deal for $24 million with a club option for $8 million in 2013.

    (that 2 million of the $24 will be paid in either late 2012 or early 2013 seems irrelevant to me.)

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    • joseph says:

      Its 2 years and 20 million with a 2 year buyout which makes it 22 million total with 8 million option in 2013. It is not 24 million over two years.

      The reality of the matter is that the Dodgers made an offer of 2 years at 22 million and Huff came to the giants and gave them the opportunity to match. Given his strong play in 2010, his club house presence and his position flexibility with regard to 1B or LF, the team made a decision to pay a bit more than they budgeted for a player they valued immensely. I dont see anything particularly wrong with this deal. Especially in light of the fact that its for 2 years.

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      • Sasha Grey says:

        ahh, thanks for correcting that.

        either way i meant that the $2 million buyout should be reported as part of the deal in the regular media as that $2 mil is a done deal. the 3rd year really isn’t a $2 mil buyout, its just a club option for $8 million.

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  21. DH says:

    Given two roughly equal players, the team brass is going to bring in the player who will sell more tickets. Only one person in all these posts has pointed out that Huff is a fan favorite. He was part of the first SF championship, there are a ton of kids wearing his jersey, and keeping the team together is a feel good story that will put more fannies in the seats than, say, bringing in Konerko or someone with marginally better numbers.

    So play with stats all you want, but when you start splitting hairs, remember that it’s all about seliing tickets, jerseys, and the fans emotional connection to the team.

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  22. Josh Shepardson says:

    I’m fairly pleased with the signing. His ability, and willingness, to play the corner outfield makes him a better fit for the Giants than the other 1B likely to get comparable contracts. His improved walk rate shouldn’t come as a total shock, as walk rate is an “old man,” skill. The size of the jump may have been a bit lucky, but the jump itself shouldn’t have been.

    Huff’s BABIP has varied wildly over the years, so a .303 mark isn’t other worldly great. He posted higher BABIP’s in 2008 and 2007. The two greatest influences on Huff’s resurgence at the dish, imo, are his decrease in worm burners (career worst 48.1 GB% in 2009 as opposed to 44.8 GB% in 2010) and his increase in HR/FB. His career HR/FB rate is 13.8%, and last year’s mark was 14.4%, so that seems reasonable. If he’s able to keep a HR/FB rate of greater than 10.5% and limit his GB% to some degree, he’ll post solid hitting numbers. If he’s only able to muster warning track pop and his HR/FB rate drops, then he’ll struggle unless he boosts his LD rate to offset the power drop.

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  23. Josh Shepardson says:

    I forgot to add. A non-anecdotal note that helps support the crowd that point to Huff being in the best shape of his career, his speed score last year was a career best 5.2 (previous career year 3.8 in 2008) and his infield hit percentage was also a career best 7.8% (previous best mark 5.6% in 2002 and 2006). If nothing else, they offer more food for thought.

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