Huff’s Big Season

Entering last night’s game, Aubrey Huff owned a .395 wOBA through 256 plate appearances, a number significant for many reasons: (A) The .395 wOBA represents a career high for Huff, at the age of 33; (B) The career high comes after the second worst hitting season of Huff’s professional career; and (C) Huff only added to his numbers by hitting a homer, a double, and a single, while driving in two runs for the Giants in a victory over the Orioles.

For someone who spent his entire career in the American League, barring a three month stint with the Astros in 2006, Huff is enjoying National League life. He’s walking more than ever, striking out at rates unforeseen from him since his days as a zealous and nubile – oh yes, nubile – third baseman for the Devil Rays. His BABIP is in check, yet he’s hitting for more power than normal. Huff has also made contact at a higher rate this year than normal.

In playing the outfield for the first time in more than five seasons, it is like Huff has discovered the fountain of youth, as one of his home runs did yesterday. ZiPS now has him finishing the season at .372, which is leaps and bounds better than any projection system had expected for Huff entering this season. Take a gander:

CHONE: .338
Marcel: .332
ZiPS: .339
Fans: .334

The Giants signed Huff for $3 million on a one-year basis- meaning that just getting a combination of those projected figures probably would have made Huff worth it. Instead they have received one of the best hitters in baseball to date. It’s like a karmic refund for the Edgar Renteria deal turning into a mess.

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8 Responses to “Huff’s Big Season”

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  1. ElJimador says:

    You could have added that Huff’s defense has been just as much of a suprise as his offense, particularly since the Giants moved him to LF to make room for Posey and then RF to make room for Burrell too. Granted, it’s only been 16 starts and 138+ innings so far but Giants fans will tell you he’s looked as good out there as his UZR suggests. Which particularly for a guy who hadn’t set foot in the OF since 2006 is pretty impressive.

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  2. Derek says:

    I for one can say that I took a gamble on Huff and I’m loving every minute of it. The 11 HR’s, 3 Swipes, and .305 batting average are a big suprise. However the reason I drafted him, like anyone else who took a gamble was because of oppurtunity for RBI’s. He has met expectations in that department and then some by driving in 36, mostly from the clean-up or 3rd spot in the batting order.

    Just goes to show you, anyone given an oppurtunity out of the 3 or 4 hole in a lineup, no matter how bad that lineup is, will get RBI and Run oppurtunities.

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    • Not really, Torres and Sanchez have been getting on base a lot and Sandoval was doing that in April before his cold May, but he has also been warming up recently as well. Huff has mainly hit out of the 4 hole, Sandoval will be returning to 3rd soon, he’s starting to hit for power again.

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  3. Paul says:

    My favorite part of Huff playing the outfield is the way he throws the ball while on the run. Looks so awkwardly awesome

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  4. Luke says:

    As an Orioles fan, I’m pretty much shocked at Huff’s turnaround. The Orioles signed him in the offseason before the 2007 season. His 2007 was a big disappointment, then in 2008, he was great, going .304/.360/.552, with 32 homers. Then in 2009, he compiled a career-worst OPS of .694 for the O’s and Tigers (in fairness, he was a .725 OPS for the O’s before being traded to the Tigers, but that’s still poor). A DH/1B for his entire time with the O’s, he was never appeared to be a good defender at first. Average, at best. I thought Huff was done — and apparently 29 teams did, too, as only the Giants offered him a contract.

    Now, Huff, like the article states, has discovered the fountain of youth with a .395 wOBA. I was stunned when I watched highlights of Wednesday’s game and saw that Huff had yanked one into McCovey Cove. The night before, he’s making diving catches in right field.

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    • The Tom says:

      wow an aging slugger in the Bay Area discovers some fountain of youth? that is amazing I mean what could possibly be behind such a rebirth?

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    • ElJimador says:

      Luke, I wish I could give you an explanation. As a Giants fan I looked at his stats last year and was counting on him being a bust from the moment they signed him. But the thing I noticed from the beginning of the year was how rarely opposing pitchers challenged him. It was like plugging him in the cleanup spot convinced everybody he was the ’08 version of Huff and they better be real careful instead of coming right at him. So he was constantly in hitters’ counts, which was first reflected in his BB rate and OBP and then after a while the power started coming on as well. And the confidence he gained from starting off well has just built on itself since. You can see it in every aspect of his game. For example Giants broadcasters like to tell the story that when Bochy texted Huff to tell him he’d be starting in LF the next day (his first game in the OF since ’06) Huff texted back, “I’m going to show you who the best athlete on the team is, Skip”. And darned if he doesn’t seem to believe it the way he’s playing out there too. He was also just quoted here the other day saying how much of a boost he gets playing for a team that’s actually in it and how by this time of the year he’s used to being 20 games out already.

      So to me all that just shows how much of the game is mental. Because I have a suspicion that if he’d gotten off to a rockier start his whole season could have gone south just as easily. Whatever the explanation, I’m just hoping he can keep it up. Right now I’d say he’s the Giants MVP along with Torres and Uribe.

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