Aubrey Huff

Once Aubrey Huff starts hitting, Giants will make their run

Wild, completely old school win tonight for the San Francisco Giants. A low scoring game in front of less than 10,000 people, featuring a comeback based on speed and not much else. If only Matt Cain pitched all 10 innings and the field was artificial turf instead of grass (and not “field turf,” either, I’m talking about three acres of concrete covered by a layer of scratchy, green plastic carpet that claims at least five ACLs per season), this game could have been played 40 years ago.

It was a great win, because it proved once and for all that Darren Ford is the most exciting baserunner the Giants have had in most of our lifetimes (I’m assuming this site’s traffic runs higher in the under-40 demographic than 40+, although I don’t know that for sure). Plus it was nice to see Nate Schierholtz hit that bloop single that would have led to the winning run if Darren Ford knew how to bunt, since Schierholtz was the subject of yet another trade-ish rumor today.

Also, the Giants needed this one. Not to keep pace with the Rockies or anything like that, but because 5-game losing streaks lead to panic. And the Giants don’t need to do that yet, especially since they’re an Aubrey Huff hot streak away from going on one of their own.

As bad as he’s looked, Huff is fine. Sure he’s 34, got paid this past winter and didn’t have a great year prior to signing with the Giants in 2010, but … wait, maybe Huff really is done. Just kidding! Here’s a few reasons why worrying is a waste of time you could spend eating those ridiculously addictive roasted seaweed things from Trader Joe’s. Salty crack, those things are.

1. Spring Training

Aubrey Huff made hitting baseballs look too easy in Arizona. 6 homers, .369/.392/.692. He hasn’t lost the ability to hit fastballs, regardless how he’s looked lately.

2. It’s only April

I’m not just pulling back from the ledge because it’s early, but Huff didn’t start all that well last year..

April ’10:       22 GM; 87 PA; 2 HR; .247/.344/.403.

Mar/Apr ’11:  21 GM; 86 PA; 2 HR; .225/.273/.350.

The difference between this year and last? 1 more triple and 4 more walks in 2010. And Huff’s April troubles aren’t just since he became a Giant. His lifetime April splits: .243/.317/.410, his worst numbers of any month.

3. Brandon Belt

It’s not Belt’s fault, but how the Giants handled their No. 3 hitter shows they weren’t prepared to bring Belt with them when they started the regular season. Getting thrown in right field with almost no notice wasn’t just hard on Huff’s ego, it’s been hard on his offensive game, too. How can anybody expect the guy to keep smashing homers like it’s Spring Training when “chalk lines” are getting laid down in the outfield grass in his honor? Changes in a baseball player’s defensive routine affect his performance at the plate all the time. Remember, the guy who put down the white tape, Pat Burrell, couldn’t hang with being a designated hitter AT ALL.

As good as Pablo Sandoval has been, Huff’s cold streak to start the season has hamstrung the Giants. The fact they’re 11-11 at this point without managing to score 4 runs per game is actually a testament to how good the pitching has been, especially with Brian Wilson going through his Spring Training in April and Barry Zito no longer being present for 5 innings every 5 games. Once Huff leaves the dark abyss of April (I have to agree with Huff there — with the cold, rainy weather in Northern California paired with the apex of hay fever season, April isn’t my favorite month either), the Giants will start resembling the team we saw in the second half of 2010.

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