San Francisco Giants: Why Aubrey Huff Will Have Another Solid Season in 2011
There have been calls for Bruce Bochy to bench the first baseman, or at least give him a couple of days off to clear his head.
Coming into Tuesday night's series opener with the Mets in New York, Huff was 0 for his previous 20 plate appearances.
Then in the 10th inning of a 6-6 game, Huff crushed a fastball off the facade in right field to put the Giants ahead for good.
Since that game-winning homer, Huff is 3-8 with a long double and two singles.
Expect more where that came from.
While many have looked at Huff's career stats and concluded that he's inconsistent, hitting over .300 with 30-plus homers one year, then hitting .241 with 15 homers the next, there's a lot more in those numbers that show he's primed for another great season in 2011 ...
Why Huff Will Produce: He's Never Had More Motivation Than He Does Now
After Aubrey Huff signed with the Giants following the 2009 season, he made it clear that he was looking forward to playing for a winner for the first time in his ten-year career.
Prior to coming to San Francisco, Huff played for Tampa Bay, Houston, Baltimore and Detroit. The only time he played for a team that finished above .500 was when he was traded by Tampa Bay to Houston during the 2006 season, in which the Astros finished 82-80.
Needless to say, Aubrey Huff has more motivation to play better than he's ever had before now that he's with the Giants, the defending world champions and a team that figures to be in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.
Why Huff Will Produce: His Career History Of Up-And-Down Seasons Is Deceptive
A brief glance at Aubrey Huff's career numbers would lead you to conclude that he's unpredictable.
For example, in 2008 Huff hit .304 with 32 homers and 108 RBI, but the very next season he hit just .241 with 15 home runs and 85 RBI.
But a closer look at his statistics reveal some secrets to his inconsistencies.
Huff broke into the big leagues with Tampa Bay in 2000, and after a couple of seasons established himself as a powerful offensive threat in the Rays' lineup.
In 2002 Huff played in 113 games, hitting .313 with 23 home runs and driving in 59. The following season Huff played in all 162 games for the Rays, hitting .311 with 34 homers and 107 RBI. In 2004 Huff hit .297 with 29 home runs and 104 RBI. In 2005 Huff's average fell to .261, but he still hit 22 homers and drove in 92 runs (more RBI than with the Giants last season).
Huff Slumps When He Doesn't Have A Home
In the middle of the 2006 season Aubrey Huff was traded to the Houston Astros, and his numbers fell significantly. By the end of the season, he had compiled a .267 average with 21 homers and just 66 RBI.
At the end of the '06 season, Huff moved yet again, this time to Baltimore. In his first season with the Orioles he hit .280 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI.
When Huff had some continuity in one place, however, without being traded year-to-year, he performed better. In his second season with Baltimore he put up normal Huff-like numbers: he hit .304 with 32 homers and 108 RBI in 2008.
In the middle of 2009, Huff was traded yet again, this time to Detroit. By the end of the season, his numbers were dismal by his standards: .241 batting average, 15 home runs and 85 RBI.
The moral of the story? Don't trade Aubrey Huff. Once he finds a home and stays there, he hits well.
Why Huff Will Produce: He Has Buster Posey Hitting Behind Him
Posey, the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, played like a ten-year veteran in his first season in the big leagues, and helped lead the Giants to a world championship.
In the process he hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI. If he had played a full season, Posey was on pace to hit 27 home runs and drive in 100 runs. Not bad for a rookie hitting cleanup for the world champs.
What better man to have hitting behind you in the order? Aubrey Huff would surely tell you there's nobody he'd rather have backing him up.
With Posey hitting behind him, Huff will see a lot of good pitches that he wouldn't otherwise, as opposing pitchers will have to think twice before throwing something that could land Huff on base with Posey to follow.
Compared with the players who have hit behind Huff in the past, Posey is a stud.
In Tampa Bay, when Huff had the best stretch of his career, the man who hit behind him was Travis Lee, who hit .275 with 19 homers and 70 RBI in 2003.
In Baltimore, Kevin Millar, by then in the twilight years of his career, hit behind Huff in the order. Millar hit just .234 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI in 2008, while Huff hit 32 homers and drove in 108.
With hitters much less talented than Buster Posey hitting behind him, Aubrey Huff has put up impressive offensive numbers throughout his career.
Expect Good Things from No. 17 This Season
Aubrey Huff, though off to a slow start, should have another very productive year offensively for the Giants.
We have every reason to believe he will give the Giants what they need from the three-slot in their lineup in 2011.