Aubrey Huff isn’t that good. Who saw this one coming?
It’s not that Aubrey Huff doesn’t have some small role to play on the 2010 Giants — he does — but one has to wonder what the point of Huff is? Yes, he’s left-handed but do the Giants really need a league average batter just because he’s a lefty? Also, he’s in his early-30′s, and he’s coming off the worst season of his career, and he’s a below average fielder, and the list goes on.
If Huff doesn’t crater (or as the kids are calling it these days: Renterizing) then the Giants have a below-average defender at first base who’s a league average hitter. That’s most likely the best case scenario. Fans hoping that Huff will return to his fantastic 2008 season are going to be disappointed. Like every other player in the game, Huff’s ability to hit for power is related to his HR/FB% — or how many of his flyballs land in the seats. His ’08 in which he posted a .387 wOBA was a fine season. But it was entirely related to Huff hitting 14.9% of his balls in the air over the fence. His walk and K rates have largely remained static meaning that Huff is going to live and die by the home run. If his HR/FB% drops to low levels — such as his 9.1% in ’09 — then he’s going to be hurting like any hitter.
Get ready for the most ‘duh’-worthy graph, ever.
By StatCorner’s park factors, AT&T Park’s HR/FB park factor rated at 86.1. In park factors, a score of 100 is neutral. All that means is that the Giants’ home park was one of the tougher parks last season to hit HR’s in. By comparison, Arizona’s ballpark had a HR/FB of 115.3. I would wager that for right-handed batters, AT&T would play close to neutral for hitting HR’s. But lefties are going to have a harder time hitting them out to right field. It seems like common sense, but Huff being a left-handed batter that relies on pulling the ball and hitting it out (6 of his HR’s in Baltimore classified as “Just Enough”) of the yard might have some issues with playing half his games at AT&T.
It also seems odd that the Giants would rather pay Huff $3M to play 1B than Garko $2-3M. Garko projects better as a hitter, fits the park better being a RHB, and is younger.
If we use CHONE’s projections, we can project Huff like the following:
Batting Wins Above Average (.334 wOBA, league wOBA .332): +0.12 wins
Defensive Wins Above Average: -0.4 wins
1B Positional Adjustment: -1.25 wins
Replacement Level: +2 wins
= .47 wins * .8 (or about 560 PA’s for PT) = +.37 WAR
That’s not so hot. I think it goes to show that unless you can really thump (or at least play mind altering defense) 1B is a harsh mistress. Huff is probably a half-win player in the NL which makes his contract fair at $3M. If you wanted to add in baserunning, you can dock Huff a couple of runs. Huff has hit RHP well over his career but he’s been vulnerable against lefties. Because of that fact, I’m not sure that Travis Ishikawa is a great platoon match. The Giants could shift Pablo back and forth across the diamond depending on who’s pitching, but I’m not sure I like that idea much.
Final Verdict: Meh. You can’t argue with the money spent but I don’t like what the Giants bought. Huff doesn’t seem to fit the park well. Also, Huff has played some 3B/LF in his career making him a prime candidate for the VERSATILE! tag — meaning that Bruce Bochy’s constant lineup tinkering in 2010 has a very good chance of becoming crazily annoying.