In the offseason, I argued hard that the best move the Giants could make with Aubrey Huff would be to simply let him go. They’d received a down-ballot MVP performance from Huff in 2010 for just $3 million, an unbelievable bargain, but whether or not he could sustain that performance for another year seemed somewhat in doubt, for two years unlikely. If he wanted more than a year guaranteed, as unpopular as it was and as difficult it was to say — the Giants were coming off their first championship in 52 years, and Huff was a clubhouse leader and fan favorite — I had to believe that was the best direction to go. After all, they had Brandon Belt in the minors who was coming off a dream season in which his aggregate stats were more impressive than any other MiLB player.
Huff’s numbers are down across the board — his walk percentage is way down his strikeout percentage way up, his isolated power (ISO) is way down and his weighted on-base average (wOBA) is just .291, down from .388 a year ago. He’s looked better in May, for sure, but for the month his wOBA is .348, which isn’t really setting the world on fire for a first baseman, especially one who, when he’s playing average defensively, you feel pretty content. And, if you look closely, you’ll see his month is fueled by a .342 average on balls in play (BABiP) and that his walks are a little down even from April, his strikeouts way up (approaching 30 percent).
Meanwhile, after some early-season struggles in the show in just a handful of at-bats, Belt took his assignment to Triple-A in stride and has a .387 average, a .529 on-base percentage and is slugging .600, good for a 1.129 OPS. He also has a 21:26 strikeout to walk ratio. Plus, he’s doing this while playing an unfamiliar position, left field, because we now know that Huff cannot even fake less than a three-ring circus in right or left field.
Think back and recall, that one of the justifications for re-signing Huff was that he could slide to an outfield corner when Belt was to be summoned — that’s what justified the two years and $22 million, not some sort of back pay. That’s no longer true. Now, Huff is blocking the Giants’ supremely cheap and talented player, forcing him to push his bat into the lineup while playing an unfamiliar position.
Anyway, I know the feelings were mixed in the offseason. I’m wondering if they’ve changed much after 25 percent of the regular season.