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Orioles sign Aubrey Huff

The Orioles signed Aubrey Huff over the weekend to a 3 year, $20 million contract that will become official after Huff passes a physical. Huff can play in any of the four corners (at least nominally, anyways) and makes an adequate designated hitter for the Orioles, who have poor hitting options at three of the four corner positions with Jay Payton, Melvin Mora and Kevin Millar all starters on the team. Chris Gomez (.234, .255, .274 EqA the past three years) was also the backup first and third basemen , so adding Huff brings more depth to the team there as well.

The money is excellent, considering the way contracts have been handed out to league average hitters this offseason, and Huff is more likely to replicate his 2006 production than his 2005 next season:

Aubrey Huff batted-ball data 2004-2006
2004 3.6 36.3% 18.5% 45.2% N/A 16.1% .300 .305
2005 3.6 36.9% 14.8% 48.3% 11.5% 13.0% .275 .268
2006 3.7 36.4% 18.7% 44.9% N/A 18.8% .271 .307

His 2005 campaign had an abnormally low line drive percentage, by far the lowest of his career since 2002. His BABIP was a fairly low .275, but was expected to be there due to the low line drive rate. In 2006, his BABIP was only .271, but he was a bit unlucky since his expected BABIP (LD% + .12) was .307; plugging the difference into his rate stats gives Huff a .303/.380/.505 season, assuming all the missing hits were singles. Granted, this does not mean that Huff is going to come out and hit that well for the Orioles, but it is a positive thing to note when forecasting his 2007 production. Huff is more likely to trend back upward or remain static than downward as he had been. A nifty signing by the Orioles in an offseason full of bad decisions by almost everyone.