Pop quiz time – name the top three hitters in extra base hits in the American League so far in 2008. Ready? Go.
It’s true – Aubrey Huff is third in the AL in extra base hits so far this year with 51. He had 54 all of last year, and had less than 50 in each year from 2004 to 2006 before that. So you’re forgiven for not expecting Huff to show up on this particular leaderboard (and to be behind two second baseman to boot, but that’s another post), because really, this was a power surge that no one saw coming.
After a solid but short peak in ’02 and ’03, Huff’s power denigrated to the point of being about league average, which isn’t great for a DH. He posted Isolated Slugging Percentages of .167 and .162 the last two years, so it wasn’t surprising when all the preseason projections had him right around the same range. Instead, he’s posting a .243 ISO, which is pretty much the same as Albert Pujols. His surprising display of power has been one of the reasons the O’s have been more competitive than expected, giving Baltimore a legitimate run producer to drive in the guys at the top of the order.
At age 31, it’s unlikely that Huff has found the fountain of youth and will continue to perform at this level, but he would make a lot of sense for a contender in need of a left-handed bat for the stretch drive. He’s owed $3 million for the rest of this season and then $8 million next year, but that’s not an entirely unreasonable contract, and teams like Minnesota should be calling the O’s to find out what the asking price is.
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