While perusing the stats for the hitters on my DMB (Diamond Mind Baseball) keeper league roster I suffered what must have been a mild hallucination or some strange dream. With a roster that features prominent sluggers like Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Jorge Posada, Hanley Ramirez, Evan Longoria and Andre Ethier, I must have been in a daze when I sorted by wOBA and saw a strange four letter word at the top.
It read Huff, as in Aubrey Huff, who was apparently leading the way on this once proud roster filled with superstars at almost every position. I panicked and quickly closed by internet browser, headed upstairs and tried to drift asleep, to no avail. To confirm I had not gone crazy, I wandered back downstairs and fired up the computer and sorted my roster by wOBA and again – Huff, Aubrey (.408 wOBA).
Aubrey Huff was quietly signed in the off-season by the San Francisco Giants and was expected to compete for at-bats at first base and occasionally play the outfield. He was coming off a pretty terrible season split between Baltimore and Detroit in which he slugged a career low .384 (ISO .144) and suffered the worst statistical season of his career (.297 wOBA).
Fast forward to 2010 and Huff has clearly been rejuvenated and it appears the Giants low key investment has paid pretty big dividends thus far. In 96 games Huff has mashed NL pitching to the tune of 309/397/549 with 20 2Bs, 19 HRs 49 BBs and 45 Ks in 406 PAs – good for a .408 wOBA. He has even chipped in 5 SBs (0 CS) and played multiple positions for the Giants (1.9 UZR at 1B, 4.4 UZR at LF).
In the “year of the pitcher” Huff has been a revelation at the plate, sporting a career high 12.1% BB rate and a strong 13.0% K rate while also knocking the cover off the ball for most of the season (.240 ISO). Equally impressive is how he has handled hitting versus southpaws this year (314/390/539 – .402 wOBA).
Take out a relatively rocky April (247/344/403 – .336 wOBA) and his line improves to (316 PAs 327/411/591 – 39 BBs, 33 Ks).
Huff will surely see a bit of regression for the rest of the season (ZIPS projects 284/354/483 the rest of the way) as Huff has been slightly aided by a 16.5% HR/FB ratio (career 13.9%) and has a bit of an oddity in his plate discipline statistics where his O-Contact% has spiked from 61.6% in 2009 to 75.2% in 2010 (60.6% career) probably partially helping to explain his slight drop in K% (2010 13.0%, career 14.4%).
Even with the expected slowdown Aubrey Huff has put together quite an impressive season. Luckily enough I decided to give “Brennan” Huff one more season to prove himself, at the expense of letting Bill Hall go (we have deep rosters), now that would have been a tough decision to live with. It’s a tight race between Huff and Brett Gardner for my surprise player of the 2010 season, and a race I never thought I would see.