Hardly a day goes by when I am not fully engrossed in baseball at this time of the year. Such was the situation once again last Wednesday night, when I settled down to watch Wednesday Night Baseball before the Giants-Dodgers game. It happened to be a Steven Strasburg start, which got me excited. However, I found the game to be rather ruined by the announcers, who were singing the praises of Strasburg to the effect of a host of elderly grandparents ogling over the beauty of a newborn child. I felt this similar sense of disgust this Saturday night while watching baseball tonight. It happened to be the same ESPN Baseball personality, who will remain unnamed, who remarked that "if the Padres win their division, Adrian Gonzalez should be the NL MVP". Sickening. Now, I write about this not to take away from the greatness of these two athletes; we all know that they are superbly talented and are performing quite well. What really got to me was that the Giants have two players, Madison Bumgarner and Aubrey Huff, who are playing that well, if not better, and are not receiving nearly that kind of positive publicity. Well, if that particular ESPN personality happens to read this article, I hope he realizes what a grievous over site he has made.
For the purposes of this article, lets begin with Madison Bumgarner, the highly touted lefty out of the Giants farm system who was drafted 10th overall in 2007, has been recently called up due to the injury to 5th starter Todd Wellenmeyer. On the other hand, I shall use the phenom Steven Strasburg for comparison. The flame-thrower is fresh out of San Diego state after being drafted 1st overall last year by the Nationals and receiving the highest signing bonus of a draft pick in history, but you already knew that. Being touted as on par with Nolan Ryan, he is one of the most, if not the most exciting prospect of our generation. So, the comparison should be waste of time, correct? Wrong.
Through 6 starts, Bumgarner has amassed a 4-2 record, 2.43 ERA, 31/10 K/BB, a .232 AVG against and a 1.11 WHIP is 40.2 innings pitched. Strasburg, through 9 starts, is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 75/15 K/BB, a .216 AVG against and a 1.07 WHIP in 54.1 IP. When comparing those two lines, nothing pops out except for the strikeouts. The era is 5% different, the AVG against is 8% different, the WHIP is 4% different, and Strasburg only has one more win in 3 more starts, not to mention only 13.2 more IP. Now, this difference is costing the Nationals $15.1 million to the Giants $2 million.
Now many will argue that Strasburg is better in the long run, he will be dominant for much longer, people will never figure him out etc. Thats all fine, he is truly a phenom and I know it, heck, we all do. However, if Bumgarner is going to give me more innings while putting up similar statistics, Ill take him right now over Strasburg, especially for $13 million less.
Now to the vet, Aubrey Huff. I am going to say right now that upon his signing I was one of the masses up in arms against Brian Sabean. Was this his big move, his deal that was going to shore up the Giant's offense? I was livid that we didn't find a way to get Adam LaRoche, and I didn't even know who Aubrey Huff was. But man was I wrong, this guy is for real.
First of all, the man should have been an all-star. The Nationals were up in arms about Zimmerman not making it, well here are his stats as compared to Huff (AVG/SLG/OBS HR RBI). Zimmerman - .294/.518/.383 17 52 and Huff - .307/.545/.396 19 61. Zimmerman came in second in the voting, and Aubrey Huff was never even mentioned.
Now, to the real matchup, Aubrey Huff of the Giants vs. Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. Using the same statistics, here are the up to date comparison lines. Gonzalez - .294/.527/.390 21 64 and once again Huff - .307/.545/.396 19 61. That looks pretty comparable to me, I would even have to give Huff the edge. Especially when considering everyone has stepped it up around Gonzalez and with the exception of Buster Posey and maybe Andres Torres Huff has had to deal with the loss of the man who was supposed to hit behind him (DeRosa), the $12 million dollar leadoff hitter that wasn't (Rowand), the breakout star who is struggling mightily (Sandoval), the injury plagued offensive shortstop (Renteria), and the troubles of the professional hitter (F. Sanchez). I would say that if either of those two guys deserves an MVP nod over the abundance of talent in the National League, it should be Huff.
When you compare Bumgarner against Strasburg and Huff against Gonzalez, you wonder why the attention is being strewn so heavily to one side. However, all that is really necessary is the success itself, and the fact that we Giants fans appreciate the effort these guys put out on a daily basis. And when the end of the season begins to roll around, the rest of the Major Leagues will be wondering why they didn't pay more attention.