Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell—after the 2010 season, we feel like we know these guys.
We saw them hit. We watched them orchestrate a dramatic transformation of the Giants clubhouse with their veteran leadership. We know their sense of humor, and we rattle off tales of their college days together with autobiographical familiarity, as if we had tagged along for the shenanigans too.
By God, we even learned their underwear preferences over the course of the 2010 season.
But the players who were so instrumental to the Giants’ championship campaign are largely unknown quantities coming into the 2011 season. With the short-term memory of post-championship fans, we forget that Burrell and Huff weren’t always the same players we saw hoisting the World Series trophy last year.
We don’t really know them as well as we think we do.
Critics are quick to point out that 2010 was a statistical deviation from the recent downward trajectory of Huff and Burrell’s careers.
Huff was jobless until the Giants picked him up off the couch in January. He had just finished a season in which he hit a meager .189 following a trade to Detroit. Burrell had been designated for assignment after hitting only .218 with the Rays when the Giants took a chance on him.
Then in San Francisco, both players spectacularly outplayed their 2010 contracts in a veritable career renaissance.
Will the 2011 season justify critics’ claims that Huff and Burrell’s 2010 numbers aren’t representative of the players they actually are? Or have the Giants found a way to harness their true talent in a way that can be showcased in the coming year as well?
The answer to this question will play a large role in the whether the Giants succeed in 2011. The veteran performances of Huff and Burrell will be crucial in the coming season, and here’s why.