Aubrey Huff: Underrated Fantasy Slugger?
by Eno Sarris //
There’s a slugger in San Francisco hitting long homers into the bay in San Francisco these days. Aubrey Huff is a lot less surly than the last version, though, and looks to be underrated by the average fantasy manager.
How else would you explain that a player with 12 home runs and a sparkling .307 batting average is about half of Yahoo leagues? There aren’t many 30-home run candidates available on the wire.
Perhaps owners can be forgiven for leaving Huff there – he had an underwhelming .241/.310/.384 line combined for the Tigers and Orioles last year. Moving to a park that suppresses home runs by 18.8% this year, he was an afterthought in drafts going into this season. Then again, Huff is a lefty, and according to Baseball Prospectus’ park factors by handedness, lefties slug .371 on average at AT&T Park, compared to .351 for righties (thanks to Bill Baer of CrashburnAlley.com for the nudge in the right direction). StatCorner.com muddies the water by pointing out that home runs have a mediocre 93 park factor for righties, but an even worse 88 park factor for lefties – meaning whatever extra-base hit lift lefties get comes from the huge gap in right-center, fueling a bump in doubles and triples. Either way, we should not have discounted Huff completely because of his move to his new park.
Amazingly, there was an outside chance we could have seen Huff’s power output coming. Huff has alternated from low-powered to high-powered performances his whole career. Look at the table on the left. It’s no clean-cut, easily explainable issue, but it’s clear that despite a general trend toward more flyballs, Huff has not had the corresponding trend toward a higher isolated slugging mark (slugging percentage minus batting average) that should have come along with that trend. After all, the batting line on the average flyball this year is .222/.217/.568, which produces an average ISO of .246, compared to groundballs’ .018 ISO. Another way of saying this is that Huff’s ISO has oscillated so much that it’s hard to discern a similar positive trend in that statistic.
Though we know that ISO doesn’t stabilize until almost a full season of data, we also know from Huff that his ISO has not stabilized over his whole career. Judging from the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools spider graphs on the right, this looks like one of his more powerful years.
In the years that Huff has had a .200+ ISO, Huff has averaged 27.5 home runs. A shot at that sort of power production this year is worth picking up in a league of any size. That he’s hitting in the middle of the order, and thus gaining plenty of RBI chances, only makes him more valuable. If Huff is available in your league, grab him immediately.