Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not Buying Barney: Is Darwin Barney For Real?

The Cubs have not had a whole lot to be excited about this season. The offense has been offensive, the base running has been run aground, and the attendance has been... Bad.

Anyway, one of the few glimmers of excitement this year has been Darwin Barney, the glove-maven of a second baseman who earned some special accolades for his early season performance. Coming into yesterday's game, Barney had .315 batting average and a homer and 2 steals. Not bad for a fellow touted for his defense!

Here's the problem — and it's a big problem: Darwin Barney's strong batting average masks his otherwise pedestrian offense output, and his minor league numbers suggest he's playing way over his head right now.

In Barney's best year in Triple-A, 2010, he hit 16% below average, accord to weighted runs created (or wRC+, an all-encompassing stat that appropriately weights each batting outcome). In that year, he sported another decent batting average (.299), but was only average at getting on base (.333 OBP) and frankly devoid of power (.378 SLG).

In other words, Barney's 2011 MLB performance (which has been about league average, per wRC+) is unlikely to stay this good. Very, very few players are able to suddenly hit better when they reach the MLB level. Most regress instead of progress, hitting worse than they did in their previous AAA stint.

This is not say Barney is not valuable! He's cheap, he's good at fielding (which is a big unknown in value at this point), and he's half-Asian — what's not to like?! Just do yourself a favor and don't put him on your fantasy team anytime soon.

5 comments:

  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But until reality hits (assuming it does) I will be excited about Barney! Besides, he's a Cub. I need no one to tell me that it may all be an illusion. Right now, I don't care.

    Enjoy what there is to enjoy while it is there!

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  2. Haha. Excellent stuff, Brad. But I'm with Rich on this one. I also claimed Barney off of waivers on Tuesday...LOL. D'oh -- Pessimism Cat!

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  3. Yeah, I'm really being pessimistic at this point, I realize that. My pessimism always comes with a hearty serving a realism, but it is pessimism nonetheless.

    What can I say? The Cubs bring out the best in me!

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  4. Some people always view players with rose-colored glasses.

    Other times, the same people will always view a player in an opposite light. Seems like this is the case with this guy and Barney http://www.cubsstats.com/2011/03/darwin-barney-prospect.html

    "pedestrian offensive output"? The NL average wOBA for second basemen is .299 and Darwin Barney's is .334. You shouldn't compare a second baseman's average against first basemen and corner outfielders.

    He's on pace for a 3.5 WAR. Even if Barney regresses, which he likely will, he will still likely be good for at least a 2.0 WAR. That isn't bad for a rookie.

    Let's throw the advanced stats out the window, and ask yourself questions about him.

    Has the rookie ever looked overmatched? Does he look like he belongs? How is his baseball IQ? Does he put together quality ABs and outs? Is he a good situational hitter?

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  5. what does being half-asian have to do with anything?

    I feel the cubs will keep him at 2nd as long as his OBP stays above .300. If he stay's cheap he can save the cubs a lot of money at 2nd, where fans were asking them to make a move during the offseason. Hopefully he allows them to keep him at 2nd and use the money for a solid 2nd baseman veteran for something bigger.

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