The Giants were obviously looking to upgrade offensively over the offseason, and Aubrey Huff ended up as their choice to play first base and hit cleanup. Unfortunately for the Giants, Huff has been incredibly inconsistent over the last three years, and of all the different positions he has spent time at over his career, the spot he has played the most is at designated hitter.
I don’t want to state the obvious, but to make the point clear, Huff won’t be able to be the DH at any point this season with the Giants being in the National League.
Even when San Francisco travels to American League ballparks, you can be guaranteed that Bruce Bochy will want to keep Bengie Molina’s bat in the lineup but give him days off from catching. Therefore, Huff won’t even DH in those situations.
Now Huff can claim that he isn’t as poor defensively as fans are making him out to be. But he has never played more than 94 games at first base in a single season, and obviously his defensive skills weren’t at a level where he was on the field.
Furthermore, after a midseason trade to the Tigers last year, Huff didn’t even have a fielding percentage. In 40 games, Huff never saw the field defensively. And with a minus-6.8 career UZR mark at first base, you can understand why he has spent more time at DH than any other position.
This poor defensive play could be forgotten if Huff were to hit .304 with 32 home runs and 103 RBI in 2010 like he did in 2008 with Baltimore. Only problem is that Huff’s amazing OPS mark in 2008 of .912 is sandwiched between a mediocre mark of .778 in 2007, where he hit just 15 home runs and a terrible 2009 mark of .694, also with just 15 home runs.
Huff will have to return to his ‘08 form in ‘10 if the Giants have any visions of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Adjusting Huff’s numbers from ‘08 in a power-friendly ballpark to the confines of AT&T, the Giants will need Huff to hit at least 20 home runs, with an OPS of .800 or better.
The problem for the Giants is that the chances Huff returns to his ‘08 form aren’t very high.