A’s answer to Aubrey Huff: Josh Willingham

Posted By on March 11, 2011 11:32 am

Just finished up a profile of Josh Willingham for the A’s magazine. I didn’t put it in the story, because I didn’t think the A’s would want any more references to the Giants than necessary, but it occurred to me as I was writing it that Willingham comes to the A’s with a similar back story as Aubrey Huff’s from a year ago.

Both had spent their entire careers playing for bad teams, and therefore not really getting the proper attention for their performance. Both also carry a red flag. With Huff it was his inconsistency, and with Willingham it’s injuries. Huff was 33 last season, and Willingham is 32 this season.

Their overall performances are somewhat similar, too. Willingham has played in much worse hitters parks throughout his career. Adjusting for that, his career OPS+ is 121. Huff’s OPS+ before last year was 113.

One big difference is that the Giants got Huff for cheap ($3 million) because he was a free agent and no one wanted him, while the A’s gave up two players to get Willingham, and they are paying him $6 million.

Of course, all of this means absolutely nothing when it comes to projecting what Willingham will actually do in 2011, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

(Total tangent from looking at Huff’s numbers: what do you think the Tigers were thinking when they saw what Huff did for the Giants last year? Detroit got Huff in the heat of a pennant race in 2009 and he proceeded to hit .189 the Tigers, a performance so bad that it placed Huff in the bargain-bin for the Giants to grab him.)

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