Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is Darwin Barney?

On the surface he is hitting .309/.350/.400. Is he for real? At the beginning of the season I pegged him as a .280 hitter based mostly on his minor league numbers. Now we have some major league data to look at.

Looking deep at the data, his high batting average seems to be for real. Looking at his plate discipline data and contact rates, he is extremely good. He swings at just 25% of balls outside the zone, which is above average, and 48.6% of strikes. Overall he is swinging less than average hitters. This is a perfect fit for his skills, as he is a very high contact hitter, and can go deep into counts without likely striking out.

He has made contact on 93% of all pitches he's swung at, so to me, his tiny strikout rate of 9.1% of at bats is for real. He seldom chases pitches, but so often hits the pitches he does hack at, so he doesn't walk too often, 6.6% of plate appearances.

He doesn't have power so I'd like to see him cut back on that 25% rate of chasing balls outside the zone. He's just a rookie though so you can't expect him to be perfect.

Unfortunately all this is only 55 at bats and isn't overly meaningful. We have to wait and watch to see if he maintains these low strikeout rates.

ADD ON: Forgot to mention one thing, Barney has been mostly benched vs lefties, which he would likely do better against. So he might actually be better than his numbers. If the Cubs want to play Barney, Baker should be traded.

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