In 2010, the Giants were penciling in Aaron Rowand as the center field starter at the beginning of Spring training. Andres Torres was a fourth outfielder at best, after only playing less than 160 games before he turned 32.
After getting spot starts from various injuries to start the season, Torres stepped up and was named a starting outfielder because of his consistent, aggressive play.
In 2010, the Giants won the world series. Correlation? Possibly.
Torres broke out that year producing an impressive 4.6 WAR, the Giants found a lead-off hitter and he won the Willy Mac award at the end of the season.
In 2011, a similar story can be told with starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.
After being invited to spring training, Vogelsong was viewed as a scrub by most fans. He was invited to camp, sure, but a roster spot? Are you kidding?
Turns out he never made the Giants roster after the spring, and he began his season in Fresno.
Turns out he is actually a very good pitcher and had a terrific season with the Giants. He made the all-star team, finished with the fourth best ERA in the National League, and became one of the Giants valuable pitchers. Oh, and he too won the Willie Mac award.
Two guys who had breakout seasons unexpectedly for the Giants, and I’m really hoping there is a third guy who breaks out this season.
Unfortunately, I don’t really think they fit the bill because of their age. A combined age of 48, these two guys are just a little too young for it to be considered “unexpected.”
Torres and Vogelsong were on the wrong side of 30 when they broke out, which is why I dont think the Giants have a potential breakout player.
Sure, Gregor Blanco can be “that guy” as he got an invitation the camp as an outfielder, but because the Giants already have Nate Schierholtz, Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera and Belt fighting for starting spots. The best he can come out of spring as is a fifth outfielder, a position the Giants don’t really need.
So barring a serious injury of one of those guys listed above- and I have a feeling Giants fans would prefer a healthier season than last year – Blanco doesn’t really have a good chance to breakout with the Giants.
So here is my prediction: Aubrey Huff re-breaks out.
“Whaaaaaat?” you may be asking yourself. Yes.
He has had good seasons and he has had really bad ones, but I think Huff has what it takes to have another productive year at first base. From 2002 to 2006 he had over 20 home runs and 59 RBI each of those seasons.
In 2010, he hit .290 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI and helped the Giants win the World Series.
Last year he hit .246 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI and drank a lot of beer.
The last time he hit less than 15 home runs in a season was when he was a ripe age of 24 in his first full season back in 2001.
I really hope Huff realized the Giants are paying him $11 million this year to produce like he did in 2010. Since his disappointing 2011 season, he apparently took up pilates as a part of his workout regiment.
If you can picture Huff doing pilates in his never-been-washed rally thong next to a bunch of women, then bless your soul.
But in all seriousness, Huff has been noticeably more devoted to keeping in shape this season and I think that will increase his offensive production.
So here’s hoping Huff actually did get back into “the best shape of his life” and he earns the first base job. Otherwise, I would not complain if he tanks and Belt takes over at first base in his first full season as a big leaguer.