Tuesday, March 8, 2011
30 A's in 30 Days: Daric Barton
Acquired: Traded from St. Louis (with SP Dan Haren and RP Kiko Calero) for SP Mark Mulder (December 18, 2004).
Contract: Signed through 2011 (eligible for arbitration after 2011).
Position: Starting first baseman; 11th best player in the American League?
2011 Projected BA/OBP/SLG: .262/.375/.407
2010 Season: After five seasons of minor league build-up and big league struggles, Barton was the A's best everyday player last year. He led the American League in walks (110), finished fifth in OBP (.393) and scored nearly 80 runs out of the second spot in the batting order. His lack of power -- just 10 home runs last year in 686 plate appearances -- has been a career-long concern; but his ability to reach the gaps and his vastly improved defense help us A's fans accept the reality that he'll never have one of those ridiculously romanticized 1950s nicknames like Daric "Boom Boom" Barton or Daric "Da Stick".
2011 Over/Under: The most curious statistic from Barton's 2010 campaign was his third place finish (AL) in sacrifice hits. He inexplicably gave himself up 12 times at the top of the order -- frequently in the first inning -- for a team that had trouble scoring runs and extending innings all year. Statistically, bunting is almost always a bad idea. Asking your best player to bunt is even worse. It's just a gut feeling, but I like Barton to hit the OVER and produce a 40+ double, 15 home run season. With a lot less bunting.
By the Numbers: 4.9 -- Barton's WAR or "wins above replacement". According to the stat-centric site Fangraphs, WAR is "an attempt by the sabermetric community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic". Barton's 4.9 WAR was good enough for 11th in the American League -- ahead of established talents such as Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez -- and only behind Miguel Cabrera among AL first baseman. Late last season, Barton's WAR was a brief lightning rod between old and new media in the never-ending, increasingly uninteresting "scouts v. stats" debate. Why is every baseball blood war so boring?
Surefire 2011 Prediction: I was going to go out on a limb and predict Barton would win his first Gold Glove, but with Adrian Gonzalez in Boston, that won't happen. Next, I was going to suggest Barton might enter the reasonably elite "10/10 Club" for 21st century first baseman, but it's hard to see him running more than last year (7 SBs in 10 attempts). So, I'll lazily stick with my 40+ doubles, 15 home runs call from above.
Old School Rap Track for the Season: Silent Murder, Nas