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San Francisco Giants: Aubrey Huff Key to the Team's Second-Half Success

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San Francisco Giants: Aubrey Huff Key to the Team's Second-Half Success
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This is not what we signed up for.

Remember when Aubrey Huff hit .290 last year with 26 homeruns and 86 RBI, and everyone was like, Wow! Where'd he come from? I hope he doesn't regress if we sign him to a big two-year deal!

And then we did (two yrs/$22 million). And then he did (.241, eight HRs, 43 RBIs).

Oh and along with Huff's struggles, also take away the two guys who set the table for him (Andres Torres has been abysmal and Freddy Sanchez doesn't have a shoulder any more), AND the guy protecting him in the clean-up spot (Buster Posey is also out for the season), and you get a sad Aubrey.

At least for the first two months of the season. Aubrey Huff in April/May was terrible. When your third-place hitter or any of your middle-of-the-order guys, are putting up a line of .218/.286/.335, it's not good for your offensive dignity.

He wasn't working the count. He wasn't squaring up the ball. And he seemingly roomed with Aaron Rowand in the offseason and learned how to weakly roll the ball to his pull side 70 percent of the time he was up at bat.

Fifty-three games of that wears on you. It was frustrating. It was $10 million a year frustrating. And trust me, between Rowand, DeRosa and Renteria, I've had enough of the more than $5 million less than .265 club. They make me angry.

But Huff turned over a new leaf and proclaimed himself a new man come June. And so far, he has been getting better. Sure, it helps out to go 4-for-5 with three home runs on June 2, but his at-bats have been getting better.

His stats have been improving as well. In the 35 games since June 1st, Huff has put up a line of .275/.319/.420, and even though he hasn't played hero at all lately, I have noticed something. He has been getting on base a lot more.

Just like last year with Aaron Rowand (again, Huff's apparent new role model), when I do get a chance to look at the scoring plays section of the box score, I'm seeing a lot more "Huff scores" than I was earlier in the season.

That may be more of a testament to hitters behind Huff heating up, including the one they call Nate of the family Schierholtz, but it also means what I just said, that Huff is getting on base more. That's important.

And for an offense that really has no consistent weapon right now except Pablo Sandoval and Schierholtz and has no consistent weapon coming off the DL (Posey and Sanchez are both out for the year), and no consistent weapon coming up from the minors (Brandon Belt was sent to Fresno to "gain momentum"), Huff needs to step up.

Because the Giants offense has been remarkably tepid. That's right. Remarkably tepid. Right in between horrendously meh and amazingly mediocre. The pitching is still there. Barry Zito is back. And if the Giants can get one person to contribute consistently for the rest of the year, I'll feel a lot more comfortable about making fun of my friends, the Padres fans.

Pablo will continue to hit. But even in 2009, Pablo had Bengie Molina hitting 20 HRs behind him. Nate Schierholtz is hot, but is he going to turn into a legitimate five-hole hitter overnight? I don't think so. Andres Torres IS having a movie made about him, so I expect that this whole struggling early on thing is just part of the script (that ends with a second half surge to rival Randy Winn's in 2005).

Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand are not going to be the answer. Mike Fontenot, Emmanuel Burriss, Bill Hall and Miguel Tejada cannot save the offense. Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside? That two-hit game from Whitey last night is pretty much it in terms of big games. Cody Ross needs to stop getting hurt, and if he contributes it'll be more of a bonus than anything else.

Which leaves us Huff (barring some evil, god-forsaken trade that gets rid of someone I like). Huff needs to take over the clubhouse like he did last year, however he did it, and wake his bat up. If he does, I feel like the Giants will have a legitimate shot at recapturing the NL West crown. And when I say legitimate, I mean pretty damn certain.

Figure out what the Rally Thong 2.0 is going to be. Rally Tighty-Whiteys?

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