One of the fun things about keeping a blog is that it allows you to look back and check in on your feelings from days, months, and years past. One of the most surprising topics this year when it comes to the Giants has been Aubrey Huff’s blistering start.
Back in January when the Giants signed Huff, I summed up my feelings:
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.
In an effort to prove me wrong and make me look silly Huff is having a brilliant season. Since the year began, Huff has gone on, at 33-years-old, to compile the beginnings of his best season ever. His current wOBA (.402) places him 8th in the NL, among such sluggers as — Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Rolen, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham. Every asset of Huff’s offensive game has been terrific. He’s walking (12.5% walk rate), hitting for power (.227 ISO), and even playing acceptable defense (+2.1 runs above average). Total it all up by WAR, and he’s been a 2.2 win player for the Giants thus far.
And that’s coming off the heels of a disastrous -1.3 win season for the Orioles and Tigers. To a point, Huff’s great start on offense has helped the Giants offset some of Sandoval’s sputtering start. Aubrey Huff might have been the Giants 3rd or 4th choice for first base. The team made efforts to sign Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche — both turned down offers for other teams. The Giants picking up Huff and him having his best year ever seems like something of a happy coincidence, but one the Giants should feel great about. And, Huff seems like a really nice and genuine guy.
Our next question should be: “Where does Huff go from here?” If you believe in stat-dipped projections via the ZiPS monster, we can get a couple of updated projections for Huff. For the rest-of-the-season, ZiPS has Huff posting a .356 wOBA, which makes him closer to average offensively as a 1B/LF. His updated seasonal projection has him at a .376 wOBA which would be a terrific season for Huff — just slightly under his 2008 (.387) and around his 2002-2003 years in Tampa Bay (.378 and .382 respectively).
No matter how Huff finishes the season, he’s been a great sign for the Giants and a good reminder why sometimes bargain signings of veterans with previous success make sense.