Darwin Barney’s Defense is So Good That He Might Be Average

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.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

132 responses to “Darwin Barney’s Defense is So Good That He Might Be Average”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

      1. @cubsfantroy

        lol

      2. 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.

      3. 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

        1. 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.

      4. 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.

        1. 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?

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

      5. Flashfire

        The Torreyes comment is laughably stupid.

      6. 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.

      7. baldtaxguy

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

  2. Rose

    I knew you’d come around.

  3. 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.

    1. abe

      dont forget Gioskar Amaya

  4. Cyranojoe

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

  5. 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..

    1. Flashfire

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

      1. 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..

        1. 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?

          1. 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

  6. 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.

    1. art

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

  7. 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.

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  9. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

        2. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

              1. 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.

      2. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. JR

      Edwin, you are spot on..

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. JR

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

      1. 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.

    3. 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.”

      1. 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.

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. mudge

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Tim

        must be high

        1. Drew7

          Very intelligent contribution, Timmy.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

              1. Crockett

                And UZR is a terribly flawed stat.

                Grindy guys can still be decent at some things though.

                1. 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.

      2. 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!

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

    3. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Flashfire

          That OBP gap is HUGE.

    2. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. mudge

    plus he’s cute.

    1. BeyondFukudome

      And scrappy.