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It’s no secret that Darwin Barney is a little light with the stick. His .267/.307/.358 career line and 81 OPS+ leave a lot to be desired. And there’s very little in his .287/.335/.376 career minor league line (over 1711 plate appearances) to suggest that a big step forward offensively is coming.

Indeed, it would be easy to look at those numbers and question whether Barney merits being a starting second baseman at all. I did, repeatedly, last year.

In the Spring, when it was clear that Barney was locked in as the starter at second, I resigned myself to that reality, and offered up that I could envision the possibility – however remote – that Barney could transform himself into such a good defensive second baseman that his offensive futility would be sufficiently mitigated for me to call him, overall, a league average second baseman (particularly when you consider that he makes near the league minimum). I didn’t actually expect it to happen.

But, here we are, months later, and I’m there. I’m totally and completely there. Barney is that good defensively. His D has gotten love this week from ESPNChicago, Cubs.com, and even the New York Times. From the latter:

On pace to break Jose Oquendo’s 1990 record of three errors by a full-time second baseman, matched by Cano in 2010, Barney has taken part in 68 double plays, 3 more than in his 135 games last season. His average of 5.23 plays per nine innings entering the weekend was far above the league average, 4.79.

But the reason Barney is ranked so high in the WAR standings is his ability to prevent other teams from scoring.

According to Baseball Info Solutions, a company that has tracked every play since 2003, Barney has made a mistake (regardless of whether an error was recorded) just 18 times after committing 30 defensive misplays last season.

The company tallies the runs a defensive player saves over a league-average replacement, and Barney is leading the majors with 29 — one short of the highest recorded score of 30, set by Craig Counsell in 2005 and tied by Chase Utley in 2008.

For comparison, Cano had 29 defensive misplays in 2010 and Utley had 35 in 2008.

In other words, Barney’s season doesn’t merely make him the best defensive second baseman this year – it gives him one of the best defensive seasons by a second baseman ever.

I’ll take that.

Yes, improved defensive positioning has helped, but, in reality, if you’re talking about the massive shifts, those represent a small fraction of the total possible plays out there (especially when you consider how frequently Cubs opponents have base runners on). Dale Sveum is certainly putting Barney in a position to succeed, but Barney is doing so swimmingly.

I’m not going to get into where Barney lands in WAR, as the continued inability of defensive statistics to capture true value and then be properly incorporated into a WAR formula has led to one calculation (Baseball Reference) that has Barney among the top 10 most valuable players in baseball, and another (FanGraphs) that has him around 80th among position players. (Though, it’s worth pointing out that, for all his offensive woes, even on FanGraphs, Barney’s WAR is equal to that of guys like Jay Bruce, Dan Uggla, and Corey Hart (and is a spot higher than Starlin Castro).)

So, when I say that Barney is probably “average” overall, I’ll confess I’m basing that on little more than my own observation. When you pair the decline in offensive production from second base across baseball with the increased value we place on defense, it’s hard to argue that Barney – who is solidly in the bottom quartile offensively, but is likewise solidly in the top decile defensively – is not at least average overall, even considering that offense is worth four or five times what defense is worth.

At least until Barney’s salary starts to escalate in arbitration (he’s first eligible in 2014), he’s clearly worth a starting spot on the Cubs. And, who knows? Maybe his OBP and SLG tick up just slightly, and he becomes even more valuable. It’s not impossible.

In the interim, I have no issue with the Cubs exploring possible upgrades – or shopping Barney to a team who understands his value. But, if Barney is manning second in 2013, I won’t be grousing this time around.

  • http://www.backingthepack.com Rynomite

    I tend to think Watkins or Torreyes is the future at this position, as both have performed quite well this season, especially given their age for their respective levels, but Barney is definitely not the problem for the Cubs. Hopefully as Barney starts to get expensive, he will draw a solid arm in a trade and then Watkins or Torreyes will step in to provide a little offense and not too much of a drop off on D.

    • Flashfire

      Yeah, pretty much agree. Barney, based solely on his glove, is a major league starter. He should have the Cubs job until someone takes it from him — and I believe both of the guys you mentioned plus Amaya are capable of doing it.

      During that interview a couple weeks ago, Epstein mentioned that even Baez could possibly slip into second (presumably that happens if Villaneuva goes on a tear at third). I don’t care what the falloff in defense is, his bat at second would make him the most valuable second baseman in baseball.

    • cubs1967

      LMAO at the Torreyes comment; the dude is hitting .269 at high A; less than Barney’s minor league career avg. fact is Torreyes is nothing but a future UTIL at best. i know the Marshall trade has everyone frustrated ‘cuz how could the Boy Wonder trade a 2.8 WAR Marshall and get a 5th starter like Wood, a 6th OF like Saffelt and Torreyes, but he did.

      The Villenueva kid from Texas could be the 2B of the future or we don’t have one, but Torrreyes………….NOPE!

      • http://twitter.com/cubsfantroy @cubsfantroy

        lol

      • Drew7

        Cherry-pick stats much?

        I love your incistence on using fWAR as your only form of saber-evaluation while, in the SAME post, using batting-average by itself to evaluate performance.

        I also love how your man-crush on Marshall has apparently led you to believe that there are no other viable 2B-prospects in the system aside from Torreyes (who, by the way, is hitting .269/.332/.389 with more walks than SO’s. Oh, and doing it as one of the youngest players in A+). As mentioned above, Watkins, DeVoss, Amaya, and maybe Baez could replace Barney at 2nd, but I’m sure you will cherry-pick some stats to make them look terrible, too.

      • Chris

        This must be a bad joke. You want to write off a 19 year old in A+ that had a terrible April and May, be my guest but below are his splits for the season. That second half looks a lot more like his 18 y.o. season in A ball (.356/.398/.457/.855).

        AB
        Pre All-Star 192 .224/.285/.307/.592
        Post All-Star 199 .312/.377/.467/.844

        • Scotti

          FWIW, I recall hearing Torreyes had an injury (hand?) to start the year. The rest of his year is in line with his career stats. A strong indication that he was not over-matched early on are his goofy low K numbers.

      • AB

        Why the hell do people want to move Villaneuva off of 3rd?? Every scouting report has him as a great defensive third baseman. You’d be moving the wrongway on the defensive spectrum moving an above average 3b to 2b. The probability is he’ll be better than Vitters or Lake.

        • Drew7

          “You’d be moving the wrongway on the defensive spectrum moving an above average 3b to 2b.”

          Maybe we look at different defensive spectrums…
          1. 1B
          2. LF
          3. RF
          4. 3B
          5. CF
          6. 2B
          7. SS
          8. C

          Wouldn’t you want an above-average defender at 2B rather than 3B?

          • AB

            Maybe I’m reading it differently (possibly wrong) so I’m open to interpretation, but I see it as a 2b or ss skills would translate positively going down (towards 1b), but a 3b or rf skills would translate negatively moving up (towards C). So if we already have 2 or 3 guys that are above average defenders at ss or 2b (Alcantra, Watkins, Torreyes, etc.) it would be better to keep Villanueva at 3b.

          • Scotti

            The tools that make a 3B great are different than the tools that make a great 2B. 3B need quickness, strong arm and a sure glove (no time to recover from a fumble). A 2B needs range, footwork and an accurate arm. Two different guys. That is why Ryne Sandberg was a decent 3B and a great 2B.

      • Flashfire

        The Torreyes comment is laughably stupid.

      • Tommy

        cubs1967 – I was going to reply to your statement about Torreyes, but then I read all the other replies and realized they had already said it all.

        I do have to ask you though – do you dislike Theo Epstein for some reason? It seems like a lot of your posts display displeasure toward him.

      • baldtaxguy

        Your Torreyes comment is simply the opposite of reality. Good effort, though.

  • Rose

    I knew you’d come around.

  • http://www.cubsstats.com/ Bradley Woodrum

    I think the Cubs have done a solid job of also collecting some second base replacement candidates in the minors. To name a few: Adrian Cardenas, Ronald Torreyes, and Starlin Castro / Javier Baez — whichever appears the worse defender.

    So I could totally see the Cubs trading Barney this offseason or next trade deadline and giving a former top prospect like Cardenas every-day duties until Baez or Torreyes is ready.

    Which is not say Barney is not good. I think he’s definitely a tick above average, and could be even more than above average if he was playing his natural position, shortstop.

    • abe

      dont forget Gioskar Amaya

  • Cyranojoe

    Yay D-bar! Saying that always makes me think “d-bar” must be some kind of physics variable or something…

  • JR

    The title of this piece made me laugh… I would much rather have an avg. defender and 2nd baseman with a slightly above avg. stick. I know WAR stats are highly looked upon in the baseball community, but I have a hard time believing he is more valuable to a team winning games than some of the names he is mentioned with..

    • Flashfire

      What is it about the WAR concept that you think gives an inaccurate view of his value?

      • JR

        I understand the War concept. I know what he has done defensively is the thing of WAR dreams.. I think there are flaws with DWAR though, and there are many players with lower WAR i would rather have than Barney. That’s just me though dude..

        • Flashfire

          It wasn’t an attack, it was a genuine question. You say you’d rather have the other guys because the WAR stats don’t give a genuine picture of his value. So I just wondered why. What are the flaws with DWAR? What player would you rather have than Barney an why?

          • JR

            I didn’t think u were attacking. That’s just how I talk, sorry man. I think the flaws with dWar are about judging where players lineup with shifts. I am not about to list the players I would rather have over Barney with lower WAR than him. Here is the WAR list, and there are tons of players I would much rather have with lower WAR.
            http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2012-value-batting.shtml

  • Fastball

    Barney is one of the best players we have. These prospects will have one hell of a time taking his job. We got way worse problems to solve.for. we should thank our lucky stars we have him.

    • art

      agree. CF, RF, 3B, c, and maybe LF along with pitching.

  • Rizzofanclub

    Thank our lucky stars to have Darwin Barney? Seriously! The guy is below avg with the stick and has great D that makes him avg. I don’t mind him at 2nd b/c I agree with a lot of ppl the Cubs have a lot of other problems that need to taken care of before 2nd. How about two starting pitchers, 1-2 relief pitchers, an outfielder that can actually hit 25 hrs in a season, and a 3rd baseman.

  • Pingback: Darwin Barney's Defense is So Good That He Might Be Average … | Baseball News Report

  • Colin

    To me a run is a run no matter how you look at it. The scoreboard has a number from the offensive side of baseball it makes the defensive side sort of an ignored point.

    If Barney can save more runs than the average player it is the same ending as creating a run offensively.

    This makes a value team filled with defensive guys instead of over paid offensive players. You can slot an average hitter in the 3 hole and he will probably drive in 100 runs and hit 15-20 bombs if he does that for 3 years he’s going to get a huge contract and be a burden in your 7th hole when he can hardly produce and probably plays below average defense.

    I personally would rather have 2-3 Barney type defensive players because they keep cost down and still save an equal amount of runs compare to the over priced offensive players with shit defense. Aramis Ramirez keeps coming to mind as the over priced guy at this age.

    Sort of me thinking out loud but yeep.

    • Drew7

      It’s not that defense is ignored, it just isnt as important as offense. If we look at baseball in terms of 50% scoring and 50% run-prevention, offense makes up the entire 50% of scoring.However, run-prevention’s 50% must be shared by both defense and pitching, with pitching accounting for over half of the share.

      • mudge

        Would you value defense at 25% then? Pitching and defense must be integrated in some way, because when Barney saves a hit, it both heartens the pitcher and saves him pitches. We’ve all seen pitchers rattled after an error.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Pitching and defense must be integrated in some way, because when Barney saves a hit, it both heartens the pitcher and saves him pitches.

          Well, defense (point prevention) is pitching and fielding combined in baseball. It’s mostly pitching, but fielding is important.

          But here is the key thing about the estimated extra outs: they are not counting “spectacular” diving plays where the announcer screams that the batter was robbed. What a good fielder does is routinely and even nonchalantly gets to a ball that just eludes other fielders. Indeed, a lot of “spectacular” plays are not particularly good: for example, Reed Johnson made a lot of diving and leaping catches that were spectacular and generated high-fives on balls that good CFers simply caught.

          So, many of the extra outs that Barney makes seem unremarkable at the time. And, of course, many of them are coming when the Cubs already are losing by quite a bit: they do suck quite a bit, after all!

        • Drew7

          I’m certainly not the best person here to answer that question, but I’ll give it a shot: No, I wouldn’t value defense at 25% – 15% would be my estimate.

          As of today, ML-pitchers have a 19.6% K-rate and an 8% BB-rate, which are both 100% on the pitcher. Couple that with a 20.9% LD-rate (most LD’s end up as hits) and a FB-rate of 33.9% (which, if not a HR, are usually outs), and what remains is 45.2% of batted-balls (with which Barney will show most of his value defensively).

          In a nutshell (I’m in a hurry and am sure the above paragraph is poorly-written):
          Pitchers, after we factor in all outcomes in which the defense has 0-effect on the outcome, are much more important to run-prevention.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I don’t recall what the number is. However, one good way to estimate it would be to look at the distribution of runs allowed (not earned run allowed!) around FIP expected runs allowed. (This is one case where I’d used FIP instead of xFIP: that uses flyballs instead of HR: whether a pitcher is lucky or unlucky with HR is unimportant for assessing fielding, and ball park effect is important for HR, too.) The distribution of RA-FIPR would provide an idea of the typical variance in runs allowed that we can attribute to fielding: and that, in turn, would give us an idea of how important it is for run prevention.

            • mudge

              I guess the quality of your infield would affect, then, whether you looked for sinker-ball specialists or only strike-out pitchers out of your bullpen. I do think in the mental grind of pressure games, where you’re up against the best pitching in the league, cracks in the defense make a bigger difference and you want guys like Barney behind your pitching staff. The Cubs did have a stretch of competence this year, and a good defensive infield was a big part of that. #2 draft pick. Fascinating season (not being sarcastic). Thanks for the insights, Drew & Doc.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                I think that teams have been going towards ground ball pitchers in general, regardless of the quality of the infielders. Ground balls that are not outs go mostly for singles: and if you are hitting a bunch of grounders, then you really need 3 singles without a double play ball to get a run. That won’t happen much. Flyballs that are not outs go for singles, doubles and HR: and it only takes a couple to score at least one run. As strike out pitchers tend to be the flyball pitchers, this has led to some selection against strikeouts.

                Incidentally, the heavy selection in favor of ground ball pitchers is probably the other reason (in addition to heat zones) why offense has dropped off. More grounders means less slugging and more singles, especially with artificial turf almost extinct.

                The upshot here is that it does not matter if you have the Cubs IF or the Yankees IF: you want grounders instead of flyballs.

      • Scotti

        A QB is the most important guy on the offensive side but that doesn’t mean you should devalue what a WR does compaired to a CB. And, in baseball, the WR and CB are one and the same. So 50% of what position players do is O and 50% of what position players do is D. If a position player bats 3rd but plays left field then he is skewed to the offensive side. If he plays SS but bats 8th then he is skewed to the defensive side but, on average, it is 50/50.

  • SirCUb

    Not that he has become more than a below average hitter, but he has shown a significant step forward in slugging this year. He already has more XBH’s in 25 fewer games this year than he did last year, his ISO is up from .076 to .116, and his SLG is up 25 points. Also, his numbers are slightly deflated by a .281 BABIP. Not to mention his 6(!) home runs, quadrupling his career total coming into the season. He said coming into the season that he had bulked up and was going to look to drive the ball more this year, I think it’s definitely shown.

  • Edwin

    Barney is also quite good at running the bases. He plays great defense, is very good with baserunning, and is bad at hitting. Overall, this makes him an average to above average player. As long as he’s salary controlled, I have no problem with him being the starter for the next couple years.

    • JR

      Edwin, you are spot on..

  • Jeff1969

    I’ve been saying this all year. I couldn’t believe how willing many people were to just chuck the guy in the offseason. The Cubs have some good 2B prospects moving through the system, hopefully, like has been said, around the time he gets more expensive & has won gold glove or two, the Cubs can use him in a trade to get some other piece they’ll need. I appreciate the new metrics, but Barney’s fielding WAR is something you witness watching the game. Anyone watching has seen the DP’s, the range, the stops, the get up & throws.

  • BD

    I haven’t really noticed, but is Barney locked in to the 8th spot in the order? That’s where he belongs, and I’m fine with that considering his defense.

    Also, noticed that Mather is in RF and leading off today. What?

  • Drew7

    Until a reliable measurement of defensive-performance comes around, I remain skeptical. That’s not to say I haven’t been pleased with Barney’s performance this season, I just have a really hard time believing he’s anywhere near the top-10 position players in terms of value.

    • SirCUb

      I agree, but considering that one method has him 10th, and another has 81st, I’d say it’s reasonable to assume he’s likely somewhere in between. Which is pretty awesome.

    • JR

      Agreed Drew. So Barney is #7 in War in the NL and Carlos Gonzalez is #49? Seems a bit off in my world..

      • Scotti

        I would have no problem with that valuation if I didn’t believe that Barney’s POs were padded by Castro’s plus (and improved) range. I still do believe that Barney is the best defender at second this year but not enough to raise his value that much.

    • KyleNovak

      “According to Baseball Info Solutions, a company that has tracked every play since 2003. . .”

      Sounds like the beginning of a so called “Hit Fx and Field Fx” data to me. Does anyone take advantage of the data provided by these guys, or are they just doing their own little thing?

      Until B-R or Fangraphs utilizes fielding data that is incredibly thorough and detailed in its entirety, I will continue to take dWAR/UZR with serious grains of salt. You can go through and find huge disparities (as high as 2-3 WAR) in player value between B-R and Fangraphs. That goes beyond a small window of uncertainty or “error bar.”

      • Turn Two

        Take the defensive metrics with a grain of salt, but don’t disregard defense because you don’t have a number making you feel safe about how important it is! For instance, none of those defensive numbers factor in the following scenario- rookie pitcher on the mound, 1 out, men on 1st and 2nd- tie game. The ball is roped to 2nd Barney knocks it down and manages to get the lead runner at 2nd. Now we have 2 outs, 1st and 3rd instead of bases loaded, 1 out- 5th inning. The defensive stat will tell you Barney made the play. The reality is he may have saved the game. Not to mention maybe 20 pitches for the kid on the arm who is trying to keep us out of the bullpen.

  • poot007

    It’s not just the glove and the stick in this game. He always has his head in the game and that kid can hustle, you never see slacking. When he comes bolting around third, I always know he’s going to score. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean fast i just mean hustle. At 1/3 of the way through the season I posted about his doubles. It seems all those doubles have turned into pop outs as of late. I think this kid can figure out how to hit (hopefully).

  • Spriggs

    I hate competing against teams like the cardinals and Reds who it seems like – send up guys who make every at bat count. The cardinals have a bunch of guys in their lineup – who just wear out pitching staffs with their on-base skills. While the Cubs throw out guys like Barney, Clevenger/Castillo, Valbuena/Vitters, Jackson/LaHair, and even Castro and Soriano – who are so much easier to go through for a pitcher. I just think Barney is part of the problem. Not the main problem, but a big part of a larger problem.

  • MightyBear

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some team makes a great offer for Barney and then puts him back at shortstop. He’s solid as a 2nd baseman but his true value is at short. Brett is spot on, the Cubs really can’t lose with Barney. If they keep him, he’s solid. I they trade him they should get great value back.

  • mudge

    Would Barney be as defensively exceptional at shortstop as he is at second?

    • MightyBear

      I believe so. He’s got a good arm. He would probably make more errors but he would get more chances and probably save more runs. 270 BA for a short stop is actually pretty good. I think he would be more valuable to a team at short than at 2nd.

    • Scotti

      I like Barney but his defensive stats are inflated by the put outs made at second because of Castro’s range. Barney would be a good SS (he is quicker than he is fast and gets rid of the ball quickly) but he lacks the strong arm needed for plays in the hole.

  • RoughRiider

    Brett, I won’t say I told you. But, I’ve always thought Barney didn’t get enough credit or love from the Cub fan base and I’ve said it all along.

  • Crockett

    Absolutely disagree. For one, defensive metrics are still VERY “meh” and quite often do not fit the eye test at all. Also, their inclusion in more comprehensive metrics like WAR make them more useless.

    Anyone have stats on the Cubs shifts? And I’m not talking the full infield shifts, I am talking the shifts where Barney is 2-3 steps one way whereas last year he wouldn’t have moved.

    I believe this occurs on roughly 80% of the Cubs defensive plays. That’s enormous.

    If Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team…plain and simple in my mind.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team…plain and simple in my mind.

      Setting aside the rest of your comment, since you elected this as your conclusion …

      Do we really have to go through the possible playoff contenders this year and find a Barney-like starter (or worse) on each? Even if you’re right that Barney is a garbage player (you’re not), that doesn’t prove the point that any team that has a player LIKE Barney on them is a “bad team.” I’m assuming you’ll amend.

      • SirCUb

        Thinking along the same lines on that one…

      • Drew7

        “Do we really have to go through the possible playoff contenders this year and find a Barney-like starter (or worse) on each?”

        I think it’s safe to say you’d rather have (or at least make an arguement for having) all these guys over DB (as a starting 2B for a Cubs’ playoff team).

        Uggla, Cano, A. Hill, Zobrist, N. Walker, Espinosa, Kinsler, Infante, Pedroia, Kendrick, Utley, Phillips, Ellis

        Guy’s I wouldnt take over DB:

        Schumaker

        • SirCUb

          Funny how we can both easily come up with lists of players better and worse than DB. Its like he’s somewhere in the middle, like he’s average or something…

          • Drew7

            My list would be bigger ;)

        • Myles

          Ok (10 million more expensive), OK (20 million more expensive), maybe (still more expensive), not a 2B anymore, OK, maybe (better hitter worse fielder), injury prone (and expensive), maybe, injury prone (15 million more expensive), ok, hahahahaha, injury prone, maybe (better hitter worse fielder).

          You actually just proved my point, because there is a reason to choose Barney over nearly all of those guys. Barney provides nearly the same value as those guys, and makes the league minimum. He’s never been injured, and isn’t likely to get worse at the plate (he might improve, but I’m doubtful). For a team that can’t afford to pay Cano 20 million a year, Barney would absolutely be a good option.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah, holy smokes, we totally disagree on several of those names, especially on a going-forward basis (and then especially-especially if you consider contracts).

      • Crockett

        A) I didn’t say he was a garbage player, Brett. He’s just a utility guy who happens to start because the Cubs are terrible.

        B) His contract may be nice and team-friendly, but with a club like the Cubs and the reality of 140m payroll being not only possible, but sustainable, a guy like Barney should not be around if the Cubs are competitive.

        C) I stand by my statement that you’re a bad team if Barney is your starting 2B. I read in an article before I was out of the country (and now, of course, I cannot find it) that the Cubs had done more shifting defensively than any other club in baseball by a significant margin. That helps make Barney’s defensive metrics look much better than they are.

        D) If you look at the reality of run prevention vs. run scoring, you’ll see that hitters who “hit with bad defense” add significantly more than hitters who “are good defenders with bad hitting”. Can you make the argument that Barney is average? I guess you could…I just don’t buy it, and certainly don’t think that the Cubs front office does…even at his contractual price.

        • Crockett

          The other thing is that Barney will be 27 by spring training next year. He’s not exactly super young with a lot of room to grow.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You used so many words, together with four points, and yet none of them actually address the primary contention: many, many non-”bad” teams have starting players like (or worse than) Barney.

          I’m kind of surprised that you would want to continue contending that if you have a player like Barney starting for your team, you are necessarily a “bad team.” You do know who was starting at second base for the World Champion Cardinals last year, right?

          • Crockett

            My contention is that Barney is significantly worse than what you’re considering him. Therefore, I feel the disconnect is that you feel like he is “average” and therefore much better than those other players (Schumaker’s OPS+ was 6 points higher in 2011 than Barney’s this year) on playoff-type teams. I feel like the inconsistent defensive metrics inflate Barney’s apparently value considerably because they fail to include information like how much and how greatly the Cubs shift.

            So yes, Barney is bad…and if you’re a good team, he doesn’t start for you. I agree much more with Drew7′s list than I don’t.

            • SirCUb

              Darwin Barney could start for the Rays, Tigers, Angels, A’s, White Sox, or Nationals, and they would all still be good teams.

            • Tommy

              I’m not saying Barney would be my choice for a 2nd baseman if we were contending, but to compare him to the ’11 World Champs 2nd baseman from last year as Brett pointed out:

              Ryan Theriot .271 AVG .321 OBP .342 SLG 0.6 OWAR
              Darwin Barney .262 AVG .303 OBP .378 SLG 1.4 OWAR

              This doesn’t really mesh with your ‘if Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team’ statement in my opinion.

              • Tommy

                and all of that is not taking into effect defensive statistics since you don’t feel they are adequate. I think everyone on this board knows how the defensive numbers for Barney would compare to Theriot.

              • Crockett

                Schumaker was the 2B for most of the year. Theriot was the SS until they acquired Furcal.

                • Tommy

                  and they won the World Series with Theriot playing 2nd base.

                  • Crockett

                    In game 7? Sure. Nick Punto started 5/7 games at 2B.

                    Go look at his OPS+ from 2011 with the Cardinals.

                    You’re cherry picking crap.

                    • Tommy

                      Yes, I’m the one cherry picking crap.

                      Thanks for the detailed, and long-term data provided for Nick Punto from the 2 games he played. I guess that makes your point.

                      Sorry for having a differing opinion from yours. I’ll be sure to ask you what I think from now on before I post anything.

                    • SirCUb

                      Yea, I think we need to stop trying to argue examples and what not. Clearly, Crockett is wrong (not necessarily about Barney being bad, but about whatever team he is on being bead), and simply refuses to admit it. Nowhere to progress the discussion from there.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      One final attempt: last year, the Milwaukee Brewers won 96 games, and won the NL Central.

                      This guy was their starting shortstop: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/betanyu01.shtml

                    • SirCUb

                      Boom. Yuniesky Betancourt’d.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Schu was the dude to whom I referred, but it’s all the same point.

                  • Crockett

                    For some reason, the site isn’t letting me reply directly to your Betancourt post.

                    I could be lame and use the excuse of a SS vs. a 2B. But I won’t…or at least I won’t try to.

                    I understand your view, Brett. You’ve made that very clear. I just disagree with it. There are other circumstances here to consider but fine…you’ve found a player who is worse than Barney and started for a good team. Worse offensively and worse defensively. Exception, not the rule…and the Brewers were ridiculed almost constantly for playing him by writers of sabrmetric and non-sabrmetric backgrounds.

                    The other thing is, why is everyone ignoring my points about the Cubs shifting more than any other team in baseball and how that is inflating Barney’s defensive value?

                    • SirCUb

                      The other thing is, why is everyone ignoring my points about the Cubs shifting more than any other team in baseball and how that is inflating Barney’s defensive value?

                      That is an interesting point and worth debating. My counterargument would be employing the eye test, which tells me that Barney has been pretty awesome this year.

                    • Crockett

                      It won’t let me reply to your post either!

                      And the eye test may not realize that Barney has been shifted 3 steps to the left or right against a certain hitter, making that play up the middle or in the hole look way better than it really was.

                    • SirCUb

                      I’m pretty sure that once there are a certain number of replies in a thread, it cuts you off (so that the posts don’t get narrower and narrower).

                      I totally agree with what your saying, and until they incorporate play-by-play data that measures the distance a player physically has to move to make a play, then it will be difficult to assess a players true defensive ability. But IMO, the defensive positioning will not play a huge role in DB’s value. The advanced scouting and subtle shifts may help the team as a whole convert more outs, but I don’t think it will have a significant impact on any one players value.

                    • Tommy

                      I think we’re just ignoring you in general at this point.

                    • Crockett

                      I think your last point there is just where we’d disagree.

                      If the goal of shifting is to allow the defense to make more outs, or essentially, make more plays routine, that reflects onto the plays making those plays.

                    • Turn Two

                      I would be ignoring your shifting post because almost every team in baseball now uses the shift. Do the Cubs use it more to a degree? Maybe, but it does not matter. Barney’s defensive value seems obvious to anyone who actually watches the games instead of just numbers, He hasn’t booted a ball since the Reagan administration, he turns double plays better than any second baseman in the game today, he routinely gets to balls, from his starting shifted position, that very few can get to and he, as far back as I can remember watching, hasn’t made a mental error in the field. Cite an example if you want to disagree.
                      Barney haters unite, but the dude can flash the leather. If you want to argue that he is not the best baserunner on the team, I will take you up on the one as well. He does all the little things that will one day actually help us win games in a society where the new school of baseball says you must be meeting formula criteria.

                    • SirCUb

                      True. But the thing is that shifting is a real grey area for UZR, because the people that collect the data are supposed to throw out any plays where they think a shift made a non-routine play routine, or vice versa. But, obviously, that’s at their discretion, and when a team like the Cubs has some kind of shift on every play, how do you determine which ones to throw out? Plotting the position of the players before each play is inevitable.

                    • SirCUb

                      Also, Turn Two’s point about double plays (rim shot) is salient. Barney has been really good at that this year. And that is something that hasn’t been included in calculating a players UZR.

                    • BeyondFukudome

                      “why is everyone ignoring my points about the Cubs shifting more than any other team in baseball and how that is inflating Barney’s defensive value?”

                      Perhaps it is because that point has been overwhelmed by the obvious complete wrongness of the assertion that: “If Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team…plain and simple in my mind,” and by the massive stupidity of so doggedly and monotonously defending such a plainly indefensible assertion

                    • Crockett

                      Hyperbole about him being “the best in baseball” at it is just ridiculous though. As though Turn Two has seen enough of other 2B to have a clue about that.

                    • SirCub

                      Well, the inevitable conclusion that I believe we’re coming to is that the defensive metrics aren’t perfect. They don’t include the effects of defensive shifts, double play turning ability, arm strength, etc. Some of those things may favor Barney, some may be to his detriment.

                      It’s ultimately up to us to develop our own opinions about Barney’s prowess with the glove, using a combination of statistics from various sources, and our own two eyes. The plethora of evidence I’ve (objectively, IMO) compiled, suggests that he is an elite defender at second base.

                    • Turn Two

                      Yes, Crockett, I have been watching baseball for 30 years- I have seen enough of other second baseman to know how good Barney is at defense. Pretty safe statement too.

                    • Mat B.

                      Does it really matter that they shift so much? He’s still making the plays, and he has shown his range regardless of whether he is in a shift or not. Haven’t you seen him make those running catches down the right field line? The diving stops up the middle? Would you have said Ryne Sandburg’s defense didn’t matter?

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Don’t lump all of the defensive metrics. For example, FanGraphs the different aspects of defense, including throwing and double play turning.

                    Ultimately, understand that “results” in baseball (both offensive and defensive) are patterns that reflect multiple processes. (This is true in all science, by the way: our “empirical results” are patterns that corroborate or contradict hypotheses about process.) However, the processes do predict patterns, and the idea that Barney is very good at multiple aspects of fielding are well-corroborated.

        • Ogyu

          Darwin Barney (2012): .262/.303/.378

          Bobby Richardson (1961): .261/.295/.316

          With a starting second baseman like that, I guess those 1961 Yankees must have been a bad team.

          • Crockett

            Comparing eras that drastically different is so futile.

            Come on.

            • Ogyu

              Yea, right. Because defense at second base plays a totally different role in baseball today than it did then. And having two guys with 61 and 54 home runs in the middle of your batting order had a totally different impact on the game back then than it would have today. Clown comment, bro.

            • Mat B.

              It’s still baseball. I wonder if you’re one of those people who has complained so much about Soriano’s defense.

          • SirCUb

            It’s really a silly argument at this point. It’s the equivalent of saying, “If you have a wart on your pinky toe, you are unattractive.”

            The wart on your pinky toe might be unattractive in itself, but if it happens to be on Kate Upton’s pinky toe, she’s definitely still hot.

            • Crockett

              No, she isn’t. Any major university in the country has 50-100 girls on campus RIGHT NOW who are hotter.

              But that’s besides the point.

              • SirCUb

                But that’s besides the point.

                Yes, it is. As is most of what you’ve said. Darwin Barney is better than starting second baseman on multiple playoff-bound teams, even disregarding his defensive attributes entirely. And even if he wasn’t, you could take away Ian Kinsler, and replace him with Darwin Barney, and you better believe they would still be good.

                • SirCUb

                  *the Rangers would still be good.

              • Mat B.

                Umm, just to see what you’ll say, the sky is blue.

                • Crockett

                  What a child. Go away.

                  • Mat B

                    You are disagreeing with some very simple statements. Is it so hard to say that Barney is a good defensive player, or difficult to acknowledge a young woman is attractive? I just thought I’d check to see if you were just choosing to argue about everything.

                    • Crockett

                      Kate Upton is not attractive to me.

                      Barney an above-average defender? Yes, probably. Does that make up, in any way, for his detrimental offensive side? No. He’s a utility guy who is, unfortunately, starting.

                    • Sircub

                      You’re definitely not winning anybody to your cause with that Kate Upton troll.

                  • Tommy

                    You’re definitely not winning anybody to your cause with that Kate Upton troll.

                    ROFL! That is easily the quote of the week!

    • Drew7

      “If Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team…plain and simple in my mind.”

      Agreed. With defensive metrics being SO iffy, along with his offensive output being below average, I’m just not a huge fan.

      Biggest problem? No.
      Huge Asset? Also no.

      • Tim

        must be high

        • Drew7

          Very intelligent contribution, Timmy.

          • Crockett

            Oh, Timmy. Always helpful.

            For what it’s worth Drew, we agree on this. You aren’t alone in your hope that Cubfandom will grow to overlook Barney being “grindy” and his “hustle” level.

            • SirCUb

              Big difference between saying a player is “grindy” and stating the fact that he has amassed a UZR of 17 over the last two years.

              • Crockett

                And UZR is a terribly flawed stat.

                Grindy guys can still be decent at some things though.

                • Turn Two

                  “Agreed. With defensive metrics being SO iffy, along with his offensive output being below average, I’m just not a huge fan.”

                  HA- Drew, I love this argument- It’s literally stating- Since I don’t have any math telling me how good his defense is, then defense must not matter and his offense is below average- so he is below average.

                  Classic- watch the game and decide whether his defense is good or not. Numbers don’t need to tell you EVERYthing, watch a game and have an educated opinion.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I think that you can have a good team with a Darwin Barney on it, but you really cannot have more than one. If you think about it, the 2010 Mariners were a team of mostly Darwin Barney’s: and while their run-prevention was playoff caliber, they lost 101 games anyway!

        • Adam11

          Agreed. If Barney is put in an otherwise solid lineup (e.g., cardinals 1st through 6th … sorry for Cards reference), then he can theoretically add more value by “preventing” opposing runs from scoring. Because that type of lineup can score enough runs to win without his offensive contribution, he is less of an offensive liability and more of an affordable “team asset”.
          On a team like the Cubs that struggle to put the ball in play let alone score runs, his offensive weakness only seems to exacerbate the problem, which is hard for fans to overlook.

    • Myles

      How about Tampa Bay, who has Will Rhymes at 2B (or Sean Johnson), with OPS+ of 68 and 72? Neither play good defense.

      How about Baltimore, who trots out Robert Andino at 2B (62 OPS+)?

      Oakland (Jemile Weeks, 71)?

      San Francisco (Ryan Theriot, 81)?

      St. Louis (Dan Descalso, 71)?

      Your statement is clearly not grounded in reality. These are all good teams with 2B DEMONSTRABLY worse than Darwin Barney. He is the same hitter as these guys, but is 2 wins or more better than them defensively.

      • Crockett

        Prove that he’s drastically better than Andino or Jemile Weeks defensively, please.

        The metrics are shoddy and fail to incorporate so many things.

        • Scotti

          While some decensive metrics are suspect (the further you get from raw data the more opportunity there is to corupt that data) a simple peek AT the raw data shows that Darwin Barney is clearly at or near the top in defensive 2B.

    • Edwin

      It’s a bad point either way. Teams that have “Darwin Barney” type players, whatever that means, probably aren’t losing because of those players. They’re probably not winning because of those players either.

      The value of Darwin Barny is that he plays great defense, runs the bases well, and is cheap. His negative is that he can’t hit. Are there better 2B? Yes, easily. But DB is good enough (and cheap enough) that it makes 2B less of a priority to fix going forward.

  • SirCUb

    If Barney is your starter, you’re a bad team…plain and simple in my mind.

    Tell that to the teams with winning records starting Mark Ellis, Sean Rodriguez, Steve Lombardozzi, Gordon Bekham, Jemile Weeks, etc.

  • JR

    I find it hilarious is Barney is such a lightning rod. The dude isn’t the reason the Cubs have sucked this year, but he is definitely not going to be one of the main reasons they win a World Series 5 yrs for now. I am just hoping some team who jocks dWar hard will be willing to give up some good prospects for him, that’s all i want.

  • Mat B

    I love how it is widely acknowledged that pitching and defense wins, and that to be a winning team you must be solid defensively up the middle, yet so many of you want to weaken the team defensively up the middle.

    • Flashfire

      No one is talking about sticking Dan Vogelbach at second. But if you can replace Barney with a guy who loses a step relative to Barney but hits .270/.380/.390 (Logan Watkins stats), you’re probably better off.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        If Watkins could put up that line in the bigs, he could be a mere average defender at second, and I’d drive to Wrigley myself to put him in the starting lineup. But I can’t see his OBP being QUITE that high (or his IsoD, specifically).

        • Flashfire

          I would agree with that, actually — just making the point that a player who is a step down from Barney defensively could contribute more to the club with the right bat.

      • Mat B

        Barney is currently at .262/.303/.378. That’s only .008, .077 & .012 off what you have listed. Yes I know that big a gap in OBP is pretty big, but the rest of the numbers I’d consider pretty close. Maybe he doesn’t combine to produce the extra twelve runs per season (just a guess) those extra percentage points would produce, but I bet he prevents that many.

        • Flashfire

          That OBP gap is HUGE.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            It’s the difference between scrub and All-Star, setting everything else aside.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I love how it is widely acknowledged that pitching and defense wins

      It is widely asserted that pitching and fielding win. However, a lot of poor fielding teams routinely make post-season. Last years WS champs were one of the worst fielding teams in baseball. The Yankees make post-season every year and frequently with very bad fielding up the middle. (Cano is OK at 2nd, but his predecessors were bad, Jeter has always been bad, and the Yanks have had a lot of offensive CFers.)

      What winning teams actually do relative to the opposition is (in order of correlation with winning percentage): 1) hit more homers; 2) hit more doubles + triples; 3) draw more walks.

      Here’s the rub for the Darwin Barney discussion: he’s not good at getting these things for the Cubs, he’s incapable of stopping #1 & #3, and there is very little he can do about #2.

  • CubsFan4Life

    Barney has become one of the best defense second baseman in the game, and he has a real chance to wil his first gold glove award this year. Barney worked on getting stronger at “Camp Colvin” last winter, and he improved his strength to the point where he can hit some home runs at Wrigley. He has 6 homeruns at Wrigley this season.

    If he bulks up some more at “Camp Colvin” again this winter, he might hit some home runs on the road next year. If Barney continues his outstanding defense (he now has 108 straight errorless games at 2nd base) and gets stronger this winter, I think the Cubs front office should seriously look at locking Barney up with a very affordable long term contract.

  • mudge

    plus he’s cute.

    • BeyondFukudome

      And scrappy.

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