Jaws Theme Swimming: Aubrey Huff and 2011
Optimism: After signing a post-World Series 2 year/22 million deal, Huff had a lot to prove. Did he really deserve two years? Was this going to be another bad multi-year Sabean signing? Was 2010 just a fluke for Huff, or has everything finally come together at the tail end of his career?
Also the Giants were counting on, and gambling their 2011 season that Huff and Torres (combined 12.8 fWAR in 2010) could give them 80-90% of the production they got from the duo in 2010. In Spring Training Aubrey Huff looked like a man on a mission at the plate.
Bad Start: Huff started the season completely lost in he field and at the plate. The excuses from the Giants, Media and fans started to pour in: ” His move to the outfield has affected his swing”, “The presence of Brandon Belt is putting too much pressure on him”, “He played a long stressful 2010 season” so on and so on.
As he struggled early in the season, Huff looked to blow off some steam by being a drunk ass while rooting for the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Huff, who was chain smoking and pounding shitty beers (Bud Light, if I recall correctly) even moved to the seat closest to us to ensure the awkward situation continued.
False Hope – June 2nd, 2011: In an unusually high scoring affair, the Giants won 12-7 thanks to a three home run night by Huff. This appeared to be the moment that Huff was going to turn around his whole season and give the now Posey-less Giants the offensive spark they were desperately needing going forward. Unfortunately as we now know, this performance was merely just a mirage of the 2010 Aubrey Huff which we would never see again in 2011.
Fun Facts about Huff’s three home run night
- 25% of Huff’s 2011 home run total were hit on June 2nd.
- Huff hit as many home runs on June 2nd than he did in any other month( April: 2, May: 2, June: 1(excluding the 2nd), July: 1, August: 3, September: 0 ).
- If you take away his June 2nd performance, Huff’s 2011 OPS drops from .676 to .650. A pretty stunning drop considering he had 579 plate appearances.
From Bad to Ugly – The misery continues: As the season dragged on, so did Aubrey Huff’s terrible year at the plate. The Diamondbacks eventually passed the Giants for the NL West lead, and the team had no response. Huff eventually saw the bench at times in September. Unfortunately, 45 year old AAAA superstar Brett Pill got those starts instead of the beloved 1B of the future Brandon Belt.
Truth Revealed – The blame game and the future: In the least surprising news ever, Sabean and Bochy revealed that Huff came into spring training out of shape and did not work hard enough in the offseason. This raised several questions regarding how the duo dealt with Aubrey Huff’s terrible season. Why did they refuse to bench him until late September? Why did he get the most ABs on the whole team? Why weren’t they monitoring their 22 million dollar investment in the offseason after he had just completed the longest and most satisfying season in his career?
What exactly can we expect from Huff in 2012? Well, he has been working hard this offseason and has taken up Pilates ( yeah…pilates). Looking back at 2011, his walk rate dropped significantly from 2010 to around his career average. His strikeout rate was the highest since 2001, and his ISO from 2010 was almost cut in half. Although some of the numbers suggest Huff could have a somewhat of a rebound season in 2012, we should curb those expectations. He just turned 35, will have a very short leash in 2012 and Brandon Belt is nipping at his heels and should supplant him as the starter if given the chance.
A couple 2012 projections:
For 2012, I have the same expectations for Huff as I did in 2010. A slightly below average hitting first basemen. The only difference is that he is making ten million instead of three. That’s a problem.