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Tom Verducci's View
Tom Verducci
September 15, 2003
CAUSING A HUFF
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September 15, 2003

Tom Verducci's View

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AB

R

H

EBH

RBI

OPS

Bagwell

7,046

1,389

2,114

891

1,404

.959

DiMaggio

6,821

1,390

2,214

881

1,537

.977

CAUSING A HUFF

Very quietly—is there any other way when you play for the Devil Rays?—Aubrey Huff has become one of the best young hitting outfielders in baseball. Though overshadowed in college by Miami teammate Pat Burrell and left off the All-Star team this year in favor of teammate Lance Carter, an unremarkable reliever, Huff at week's end had more total bases (305) than Sammy Sosa and Magglio Ordo�ez, and every other rightfielder except Gary Sheffield.

While the career path of the more heralded Burrell, 26, has stalled with the Phillies, Huff, also 26, has improved his home run and RBI totals in each of his four years (to 28 and 93, respectively, this season). A lefty, Huff has become an all-fields hitter who doesn't strike out often and hits lefthanders as well as righthanders.

"Give Lee Elia credit," one American League scout says, referring to the Tampa Bay hitting coach. "He's one of the best coaches in the business, and Huff has learned how to hit the inside pitch and when to go the other way. He keeps his hands inside the ball, not around the ball, and Elia is great at teaching that approach."

JOLTIN'JEFF

With his 882nd extra-base hit, Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell recently passed Joe DiMaggio to move into 47th place on the alltime list. He did so in his 13th season, as many as DiMaggio played. The similarities don't stop there between the Astros' number 5 and the Yankees' number 5.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

ACES WILD

Roy Halladay, Esteban Loaiza and Steve Trachsel all pitched for the 2000 Blue Jays, though not very well—they combined to go 11-19. Fast-forward three years, and they were a combined 52-20 at week's end, with Halladay (Blue Jays) and Loaiza ( White Sox) in the running for the American League Cy Young Award and Trachsel ( Mets) one win short of his career-high (15, in 1998). Between 2000 and '03 Halladay, 26, and Trachsel, 32, spent time in the minors, and Loaiza, 31, had to sign a minor league contract this spring before making the big club. Trachsel, 19-12 since his rehab assignment last year in Triple A, is an example of why teams continue to give middle-level pitchers a chance.

"A lot of pitchers find it later," Trachsel says. "Some guys get to the big leagues on pure stuff, get hurt and learn later how to pitch. For others, like me, you're constantly learning and adjusting. Going to the minors was the big thing for me. It wasn't mechanical. It was mental-just learning to pitch one pitch at a time."

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