The Curious Case of Aubrey Huff

Aubrey. Oh, Aubrey.

Year Age Tm AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2008 31 BAL 598 182 48 2 32 108 53 89 .304 .360 .552 .912 137
2009 32 TOT 536 129 30 1 15 85 51 87 .241 .310 .384 .694 81
2010 33 SFG 569 165 35 5 26 86 83 91 .290 .385 .506 .891 140
2011 34 SFG 325 79 16 1 8 43 26 58 .243 .296 .372 .668 87
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2011.

 

It's tempting to play the "one of these things is not like the other" game, except there are two things not like two others. He's done this before. There's no rhyme or reason to it. Over the past four seasons, he's alternated between terrible and fantastic. There is no gray area. There is possibly a grey area, but you can use that for cricket, you limey bastard. This is baseball -- a game of inches, not centimeters, rods, or fathoms.

Huff is killing the offense. He's not the only player, of course. Just the most prominent. If you're not familiar with the RC/9 stat, it's an approximation of what the average number of runs a team would score if they had a lineup with nine of the players question. A lineup filled with nine Jose Bautistas, for example, would likely average 13.1 runs per game, so Bautista's RC/9 is 13.1.

The Giants average 3.6 runs per game. Aubrey Huff's RC/9 is 3.6. He is a metaphor, a symbol. He is the cleanup hitter, but he is also every hitter. All is one, and one is Huff.

The catch is that the Giants are about to get Brandon Belt back from a hand injury. Barring any unfortunate rowtrusions, the outfield of Ross/Torres/Schierholtz looks pretty good from here, and Huff looked terrible in the outfield this year anyways. The team could always put Belt in the outfield, but for what? For whom? To play Huff? Again, he's been terrible. Something needs to change.

Here's the catch, though: Bruce Bochy has never benched a struggling veteran for a rookie. Never. From Jody Reed to Randy Winn, he's never sat the veteran down. He's played young players out of spring training -- Ruben Rivera, ahoy! -- but he's never given up on a veteran to play a rookie.

And if you want another reason to be annoyed with the Padres -- I'm sure you're running out -- this strategy is probably because he never needed to.  The Padres always had randomly productive veterans to reinforce Bochy's philosophy. Ron Gant, Rickey Henderson, Rondell White, Mark Loretta, Dave Roberts ... all of these veterans were annoyingly good when he was with the Padres. And the young players he was sitting in favor of players like Joe Randa -- guys like Xavier Nady and Sean Burroughs -- kind of stunk. I can't find a really good youngster who languished behind a struggling veteran in San Diego.

When Bochy refused to play guys like Kevin Frandsen, John Bowker, and Fred Lewis, it turns out those guys kind of stunk, too.

Oh.

Oh, no.

What if he's ... I mean, what if he's actually an astute judge of talent? What if, while we're looking at young player's stats, Bochy can actually see through the matrix? What, then?





 

Ah, right. Still, Belt is different. He is one of the better hitting prospects to come around during Bochy's tenure, save Burroughs. And Huff is struggling like few others in the game right now in a position (both lineup and defensive) that's supposed to feature the team's best hitter. When Belt is ready to return, it's probably a good idea to sit Huff down for a bit. We don't know what we have in Belt, but we have a sneaking suspicion that what we have with Huff isn't going to get better.

Just know that it isn't going to happen. Make peace with Huff starting over Belt. Stop getting mad. Get going on that path to acceptance. We're on the Good Ship Huff right now, and that baby's going to make it to port. Hope for a rebound. It's the best we'll get.

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