It’s been a tough 2012 if you are Giants 1B/OF Aubrey Huff. In fact, it’s been a downward spiral for Huff ever since his arrival in the City by the Bay. Signed by the San Francisco Giants prior to the 2010 season as an answer to their seemingly perennial offensive woes, Huff posted a seaosn which landed him in the top ten for National League MVP voting. But it has been a slide down one of San Francisco’s famous hills ever since.
2010 saw Huff post a .290 batting average, 26 homers, and he drove in 86 runs in 569 at-bats. 2011 saw those numbers drop to .246/12 HR/59 RBI in 521 at-bats. If 2011 was a bad dream for Huff, then 2012 must be a full-on “Freddy Krueger-meets-nude-Oprah” nightmare.
If it weren’t bad enough that Mrs. Dubsism loves to refer to him as “The Girl” based strictly on the fact for the longest time she thought his name was actually “Audrey,” this is the year it’s been made clear to Huff his job is in jeopardy. Not only does he have hot prospect Brandon Belt pushing him for the job as “tall lefty bat who can play first base or corner outfield,” now he’s got Melky Cabrera complicating the outfield picture by threatening to become only the third player in Giants’ history to rack up a 200-hit season.
For openers, and for a host of reasons, Huff is down to 58 at-bats in which he’s gone .155/1 HR/5 RBI. That combined with everything else I’ve already mentioned are all likely contributors to the fact Huff has already been on the disabled list earlier this season for an anxiety disorder. If that weren’t enough, in yet more proof of the “when it rains, it pours” phenomenon, Huff managed to injure his right knee during the on-field celebration following Matt Cain’s perfect game on Wednesday night. Wanting to avoid the crush of Giants rushing on to the field via the dugout steps as the final out was recorded, Huff lept over the dugout railing and upon landing awkwardly on his right leg, he twisted his knee and got an all-you-can-eat faceplant meal of the infield warning track dirt at AT&T Park.
As a result, Huff underwent an MRI, and subsequently the Giants have placed him on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. Huff was diagnosed with a sprained knee and the roster move is retroactive to June 11. The conventional wisdom is that the injury is not serious and Huff should be ready to return when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list later this month.
The dirty little secret is that Huff may have just “Wally Pipp-ed” himself. To fill his spot on the roster, the Giants called up outfielder Justin Christian, who served as San Francisco’s designated hitter on Friday night. Christian just happens to be hitting .364/7 HR /31 RBI to go with 10 stolen bases and a .972 OPS in 60 games at Triple-A Fresno, and he gives the Giants another speed-burner off the bench to go with Emmanuel Burriss.
However, it is expected the torrid-of-late Brandon Belt is going to get the lion’s share of the at-bats and starts at first base during Huff’s convalescence. Considering the late-inning options Christian presents, and considering the fact Belt is showing all the sings of blossoming into the slugger the Giants have envisioned. Not only did Belt homer in Cain’s 14-strikeout masterpiece on Wednesday, he has now gone deep in three consecutive games, including an impressive blast into McCovey Cove on Thursday for his second career “splash hit” and the first by a Giants’ hitter this season.
Given his dismal performance and the seeming on-rush of the youngsters, I’m not inclined to bet the Giants are in a hurry for Huff’s return, especially when there are no “do-overs” in the big leagues.
For a better view of what may be the end of Aubrey Huff as a San Francisco Giant, the faceplant is visible at the 9:10 mark of this MLB.com video. SB Nation also has GIFs giving you two different angles of Huff’s tumble.