Aubrey Huff and FB%

It was a rough couple of years in 2006 and 2007 for Aubrey Huff. In ’06, he continued his downward trend from his 30-HR, 100-RBI peak and ended up with just 21 HR and 66 RBIs while splitting time with Tampa Bay and Houston. Then he signed a three-year deal with the Orioles and saw his HR output drop to 15. Perhaps rock bottom occurred when following the 2007 season he appeared on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show and trashed the city of Baltimore.

But then everything went right for Huff in 2008. A notoriously slow starter, he didn’t bury himself early and then went on a hot streak that lasted from the end of May through mid-September. Overall he finished with a .304-32-108-96-4 line, which made him a top-25 fantasy hitter.

So, how did he do it? Huff’s BB% and K% were right around career averages and his BABIP of .314 was not out of line with previous efforts (it was .310 the year before). He traded some ground balls for fly balls and line drives and established a career-best 41.7 percent fly ball rate. His HR/FB rate rebounded to 14.9 percent, up over six points from 2007 but just 0.6 percent above his lifetime average.

This means we have a once-solid hitter returning to previous levels. Huff seems like he has been around forever, but he turned 32 in the off-season. Is it reasonable to expect him to repeat his 2008 performance? How do others see him so far this year?

In the January 5th ADP report from Mock Draft Central, Huff checks in at number 83, considerably below his 2008 final rankings. He is behind Carlos Pena (67) and Derrek Lee (50) among others.

The nice thing about Huff is that he gives you flexibility, having played enough to qualify at both 1B (24) and 3B (33) in most leagues. That makes him more valuable than either Pena or Lee if they put up similar numbers.

Every major mark that Huff put up last year was in line with previous production, other than his FB%. And even if that regresses completely back to his career average, it still leaves him as a 28-HR player if he repeats the rest of his 2008 numbers. That would still leave him as a top-50 fantasy hitter.

Right now it appears that Huff is being undervalued in fantasy drafts.

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