Saturday, February 16, 2013

Clint Barmes Will Be Better...Right?

I'm not sure if I'm just whistling past the graveyard or not, but I think Clint Barmes will be better at the plate in 2013.  Last year was frustrating at the plate for Barmes as he sported a .229/.272/.321 triple slash line.  If uber-nerd terms that's a 593 OPS (should be around 700 for an average MLB'er), a .260 wOBA (should be around .330), and a 62 wRC+ (average is 100).

Out of 24 shortstops that had at least 450 plate appearances (Barmes had 493), Barmes finished 23rd out of 24 -- thanks Brendan Ryan! -- in terms of wOBA and wRC+.  In short, he sucked at the plate.

Too often fans treat players as robots that are immune to outside problems or pressures.  We expect them to perform the same as they did the previous year and never age or slump.  Barmes was signed before the 2012 season to a 2 year/$10.5M deal, easily the biggest payday of his career.  He was Clint Hurdle's handpicked free agent during the offseason, due to their time together at Colorado, and brought in for his defense and leadership abilities.  He was not expected to be a total black hole at the plate, though.

Perhaps he put too much pressure on himself and it just mushroomed on him.  But if you look at his 1st/2nd half splits, Barmes was halfway decent in the 2nd half.

1st half -- .204/.227/.298 (525 OPS, .230 wOBA, 41 wRC+)
2nd half -- .257/.322/.348 (670 OPS, .294 wOBA, 85 wRC+)

Are those 2nd half numbers fantastic?  No, but for a shortstop batting 8th in the lineup they're not outrageous either.  Coupled with his fantastic defense, rated 2nd overall to the aforementioned Ryan, that would be a pretty nice shortstop.  Even with his wretched bat last year, Barmes still put up a 1.7 WAR, so with his 2nd half numbers he would have been a 2.5 to 3.0 WAR player.  Not too shabby.

If Barmes would have put up his 2nd half numbers during the whole year, Barmes would have placed somewhere around 14th in the neighborhood of Rafael Furcal's .264/.325/.346 (.298 wOBA, 87 wRC+).  There wouldn't have been nearly the same amount of complaining.

I think Barmes is going to be more comfortable in his role this year and have a whole year more representative of what he did in the 2nd half.  And that will surely make the year go a little more smoother.

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