After winning the NL Gold Glove at second base in 2012, most fans thought that the Chicago Cubs were ready to add Darwin Barney to the future core of the team. While Barney is no doubt amazing in the field, I wonder if he has the bat to be a regular player on a contending team.
We have all known that Barney is a light hitting player. In 1255 career at-bats, Barney is hitting for a career average of .257, with 11 home runs and 94 RBIs. Also, Barney offers little on the base paths, with only 17 career stolen bases.
In his 2012 Gold Glove season, Barney had an outstanding WAR of 4.8. This is great on the surface, but it is commonly thought that WAR is a little skewed on the defensive end, so it is probably higher than what he was really worth.
After playing mostly shortstop throughout the minors, Barney has moved to 2B at the big league level. He has flawlessly made the transition, giving the Cubs arguably the best defensive 2B in the game. I guess the big question is whether the Cubs are better off with the elite glove at 2B like Barney with little hitting ability, or would they have more success with a guy that has a better bat, but not as good on defense?
The Cubs have some nice middle infield depth in the minor leagues. Guys like Logan Watkins and Ronald Torreyes are better hitters than Barney. Watkins shows great plate discipline and always has an outstanding on-base percentage. Torreyes is one of the best contact hitters in the minors, and has an uncanny ability to make contact on any pitch. Both guys offer a little bit more pop than Barney.
This will be interesting to watch the next couple of seasons. The Cubs expect to be competitive in the next few years and some of the guys on the team now will not make the cut. I wonder if Barney will be one of these guys?
What he offers defensively is awesome, but if he continues to be useless offensively, I think the Cubs eventually move in another direction. I have always thought that Barney would be an amazing backup middle infielder on a contending team — maybe a guy that you could bring in late-game situations to help hold a lead as he can certainly play either SS or 2B flawlessly.
Only time will tell what happens with Barney with the Cubs, but regardless if he is a starter or not, I am willing to bet he will be a key part on this team when they are competitive.