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Sunday, August 19, 2012

NY Times: Cubs’ Barney Provides Historically Good Defense at Second

But defensively, he may be the best second baseman in baseball, and he is in the midst of one of the best seasons ever for a player at his position, having committed just one error in 112 games ... 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.

bobm Posted: August 19, 2012 at 02:00 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, defense

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2012 at 08:19 AM (#4212332)
i am surprised this article isn't receiving more commentary by the denizens of bbtf.

   2. Charles S. storms out of Wrigley before walk-off Posted: August 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM (#4212393)
He sure passes the eyeball test. Barney gets to every ball he should, and many balls that look like hits off the bat turn into outs because of Barney's positioning. Phillips is still the gold standard, but this year Barney's been the better defender.
   3. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4212398)
i am surprised this article isn't receiving more commentary by the denizens of bbtf.

There have been a fair number of (heated!) discussions on Darwin Barney's WAR - there are probably a couple of links in the Gonfalon Cubs section, though I am also surprised that this one hasn't taken off in the same vein.
   4. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4212401)
Cubs suck and they'll suck for awhile. There is no more energy left to quibble about such slight things.
   5. zonk Posted: August 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4212436)

There have been a fair number of (heated!) discussions on Darwin Barney's WAR - there are probably a couple of links in the Gonfalon Cubs section, though I am also surprised that this one hasn't taken off in the same vein.


Right - the power of the shift... Which does give me some hope that the dugout staff (presumably, in conjunction with data they're getting fed from upstairs) knows what it's doing. I don't think it's merely a matter of Barney shifting into other coverage areas - Castro seems to be getting solid to better dWAR numbers, too.

That said, Barney is toting an 86 OPS+ with an OBP that's barely straddling .300 -- so he needs to be stellar defensively to deserve an everyday job, but at the moment - he seems to pulling more than his weight with the leather.

They'll get another cheap year out of him next year, and he's probably going to worth his contract even the first year or two of arb unless something crazy happens.

I'm content to say that 2B isn't a spot to focus on for improvement, at least for the next 2-3 years. 2B do seem to wear out defensively sooner than elsewhere, so it's certainly worth a look at the market regularly... but I can Barney perhaps being a part of the next good Cubs team.

In sense, the Cubs pretty fortunate in that 2B, SS, and (granted, this is a reach given his K issues) CF are fairly well covered. Add Rizzo/1B, and if you think Clevenger/Castillo are a perfectly fine backstop combination (I do) -- and really, the Cubs biggest needs are pitching and a sizeable corner OF bat or two. They could also use a 3B, of course, too.

   6. Meatwad Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4212571)
I think starlin will get pushed to 2nd or third when Baez eventually makes it up.
   7. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4212606)
That said, Barney is toting an 86 OPS+ with an OBP that's barely straddling .300 -- so he needs to be stellar defensively to deserve an everyday job, but at the moment - he seems to pulling more than his weight with the leather.

That's my take on it, basically. My guess is that Barney's jaw-dropping numbers are likely an outlier, if not an artifact due to the shift, and that he is merely quite good to excellent with the glove. I expect 2011 to be a typical Barney year for the next few seasons, and at pre-arb cost at a time when the Cubs are not going to contend, a perfectly cromulent starting middle infielder. Your classic fun to watch but not all that good player on a losing team.
   8. zonk Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4212632)
I think starlin will get pushed to 2nd or third when Baez eventually makes it up.


I've heard Baez is the one who might find himself moving over to 3B - if only because he grades out to having more power and power hitters play 3B, not SS. He's played SS exclusively in his pro career thus far, though (aside from a few DH turns).

Baez raked at Peoria, but has struggled since coming up to high A Daytona. Still - his power certainly looks legit (career .543 SLG and 12 HRs in just 235 Midwest league ABs). I'm allowing myself to be mildly interested in him, even with the Cubs longtime struggles finding quality HS bats.

   9. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4213019)
I suppose it didn't take off because the DRS (or whichever it is) gave in and dropped "shift" plays too. One suspects Barney's big number is still a mix of good range and good positioning. Fangraphs has him at a more believable +12 but that still works out to 2.4 WAR in 431 PA this year after 2.2 WAR in 571 PA last year. In the absence of a young stud 2B squirreled away in the Cubs system, I'll take it.

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