Tag Archive | "Darwin Barney"

The Revolving Door At Second

No aspect of the 2012 Cardinals comes with more questions than the middle infield, where one position has no clear starter and one has a veteran with something to prove. Rafael Furcal returns on a two-year contract with the Redbirds, hoping to show he can still play at the high level he displayed as recently as 2009, while the team goes into Spring Training with an open competition for the starting second-base job.

If Furcal’s performance is an unknown, at least his role is not. On the other side of the keystone, there’s a different kind of uncertainty. Three players go into camp with a shot at winning time at second base: Tyler Greene, Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumaker. Any of the three could win the lion’s share of the job, or manager Mike Matheny could fashion a job-sharing arrangement among two or three of the contenders.

This is one spot where the Cardinals find themselves far from the top of the division, both offensively and defensively as it stands today.

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney hit .276 in 2011, with a pair of homers, nine steals, 43 RBIs and 66 runs scored.  Barney secured the starting second base job in Spring Training and never looked back. A .238 batting average in the second half dampens any enthusiasm for this youngster, who hasn’t shown much power or speed.

The Reds exercised Phillips’ $12 million option on Oct. 31, but the three-time National League Gold Glove winner has long trumpeted his desire to re-sign with Cincinnati for many years.  Phillips, 30, has also been firm about his lack of willingness to accept a hometown discount to remain with the Reds.  Phillips recorded his first .300 season but the numbers weren’t all as rosy. His home run total was the lowest since 2006 and his 14 steals were the lowest since 2005. Phillips remains a quality second baseman but at age 30, it remains to be seen if he can climb back to the 20-20 level.

Astros rookie second baseman Jose Altuve hit .276 with a pair of homers, seven steals, 12 RBIs and 26 runs scored in 221 at-bats during his inaugural season.  Altuve was hitting .389 in the Minors when the Astros gave him the call to the show. The 21-year-old showed some speed and the ability to collect hits against Major League pitchers but his lack of power and elite speed will limit Altuve’s potential in the short term.

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks finished up an injury-plagued 2011 season with 20 homers, nine steals, 49 RBIs, 77 runs scored and a .269 batting average in 453 at-bats.  Weeks launched 17 homers in the first half of the season but suffered a serious ankle injury near the end of July and registered only 83 at-bats in the second half. The 29-year-old is an attractive asset heading into 2012 because of his ability to hit for power as a second baseman.

Without a lot of fanfare, this second-year player  produced a solid 2011 with .273 with 12 homers, nine steals, 83 RBIs and 76 runs scored.  Walker has settled in as a solid, but not spectacular second base option. Don’t look for major improvements in 2012 but at age 26 he could still make small gains. A  reasonable expectation for him and a solid season cound make him one of the few second baseman to collect 90 RBIs.

Schumaker, 31, hit .283 in 117 games last season, including a .299 mark after the All-Star break. He batted .381 in the playoffs and had the game-winning RBI in the decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series against the Phillies.

By the time 2012 is said and done here is how I see things shaking out amongst the NL Central second basemen

  1. Brandon Phillips
  2. Rickie Weeks
  3. Neil Walker
  4. Darwin Barney
  5. Skip Schumaker
  6. Jose Altuve

Looking ahead:

Descalso and Greene are likely slicker fielders, but Schumaker has established himself as a solid hitter for a middle infielder. Whereas at the start of the winter it sounded as though he was being removed from the second-base picture, later indications have made it clear that Schumaker can compete for the job.

Greene and Descalso both come from other positions. Descalso has played plenty of second, but in the Major Leagues, he’s spent more time at third. Offensively, he’s a bit similar to Schumaker, a line-drive hitter with some on-base ability but not much power. Defensively, he is probably a superior second baseman. But his versatility is also an asset that Matheny may covet.

Then there’s Greene, who sometimes sounds like the favorite coming into the spring. A former first-round Draft pick and a shortstop by trade, he has tremendous tools but has yet to turn them into dependable production at the big league level. Greene’s upside is the highest of the contenders, but of the three, he has proved the least in the Majors.

One advantage for Greene is that he is a shortstop, and there’s no clear backup to Furcal. If Greene doesn’t win the starting job, he could well stick as a utility player. Descalso is also almost certain to be on the roster for his positional flexibility, defense and pinch-hitting savvy, while Schumaker will be on as a utility man if not the starter.

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Kimbrel, Hosmer, Hellickson Selected As Top Rookies From BBA

Kimbrel, Hosmer, Hellickson Selected As Top Rookies From BBA
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance names their Willie Mays Award winners.

Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves easily won the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s Willie Mays Award for top rookie in the National League. The American League award, though, was a much different story.Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer and Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson both received 67 points in American League voting, creating the first tie for an award since the Alliance began handing out the honors in 2009. Hosmer received nine first place votes, while Hellickson garnered eight. Rounding out the top three in the AL was Mark Trumbo, the first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In the National League, Kimbrel, who set a rookie record for saves as Atlanta’s closer, outpaced his teammate, first baseman Freddie Freeman, by thirty points. Kimbrel received 65 points, including 11 of 16 first place selections. Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa was a distant third.

The complete voting results are as follows (first place votes in parenthesis):

American League
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay (8) 67
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City (9) 67
Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles of Anaheim (3) 27
Michael Pineda, Seattle (3) 23
Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay 7
Ivan Nova, New York 7
Brett Lawrie, Toronto (1) 5
Dustin Ackley, Seattle 4
Zach Britton, Baltimore 3
Alexi Ogando, Texas 3
Jordan Walden, Los Angeles of Anaheim 2
Chris Sale, Chicago 1

National League
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta (11) 65
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta (3) 35
Danny Espinosa, Washington (1) 17
Vance Worley, Philadelphia (1) 10
Wilson Ramos, Washington 5
Darwin Barney, Chicago 1
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta 1
Dillon Gee, New York 1

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 316 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot. Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.

Notably, though the Alliance’s awards come out well before their official counterparts, the BBA selections have matched those of the Baseball Writers of America in all but two instances in the past two years. This, of course, does not include the Goose Gossage Award that is exclusive to the BBA.

Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and for this award, were tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale for first through third place. In the interest of transparency, links are given below for the ballots. Chapter affiliation is in parenthesis. Those chapters that decided on the group method are noted with an asterisk.

American League
Baltimore Sports and Life (Baltimore)
Baseball Is My Boyfriend (Texas)*
The Blue Jay Hunter (Toronto)
Boston Red Thoughts (Boston)*
Camden Crazies (Baltimore)
Contract Year (Oakland)*
Detroit Tigers Scorecard Blog (Detroit)
The Flagrant Fan (General)
Infield Fly (Toronto)
Kings of Kauffman (Kansas City)*
Lady At The Bat (New York)
Misc. Baseball (History)
North Dakota Twins Fan (Minnesota)
Old English D (Detroit)
The Rays Rant (Tampa Bay)
Seattle Mariners Musings (Seattle)
The Tribe Daily (Cleveland)*
Twins Trivia (Minnesota)
Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)

National League
Appy Astros (Houston)
Bernie’s Crew (Milwaukee)*
Blog Red Machine (Cincinnati)
Cincinnati Reds Blog (Cincinnati)
Dugger Sports (Philadelphia)
The Eddie Kranepool Society (New York)*
The Flagrant Fan (General)
Misc. Baseball (History)
RetroSimba (St. Louis)
Rockies Woman (Colorado)
Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)
Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? (Pittsburgh)*

Prior Winners: 2010: Neftali Feliz, Texas; Buster Posey, San Francisco
2009: Andrew Bailey, Oakland; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

The official website of the BBA is located at baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com. The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba. For more information, contact Daniel Shoptaw at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

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George Brett: 30 Games In 1980

Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves just put to rest a 33 game hit streak courtesy of a fine defensively play by Cubs’ second baseman Darwin Barney. A 33 game hitting streak is nothing to laugh at, just look at what George Brett did in 30 games, the longest hitting streak in Kansas City Royals’ history.

GeorgeBrett

The fair starting point for this streak specifically would be on July 17, 1980. The Boston Red Sox would trounce the Royals that day at Fenway Park by a score of 12-4 and Sox hurler John Tudor would go the distance, holding the Royals third baseman George Brett hit less on the day.

The following day, the Royals would visit Yankee stadium and score a lopsided win of their own. This time, Larry Gura would go the distance for the Royals as they would defeat the Bronx Bombers by a score of 13-1. George Brett would begin his famous hitting streak in grand fashion, posting a 4-for-5 day with a homerun, four runs batted in, and a walk. Not only was Brett’s streak under way, so was his chase for a .400 batting average as he would end the day hitting .377.

Over the next two days, Brett would add another multi-hit game to his streak, going 2-for-5 on July 19th and post a total of five more runs batted in, bringing his streak total to nine runs batted in and seven hits over the first three games with a double and a home run. Leaving New York City, Brett was hitting .375 and the team was heading home to face the Chicago White Sox.

The four game set with the White Sox would bring the first close call of the streak on July 22. Brett had come to the plate three times already that night with a flyout and line out to right field as well as a ground out to the first baseman. It came down to the bottom of the eighth for the then four game hitting streak to be extended as Brett would land a single off of White Sox reliever Mike Proly. It would be the only game of the four game series with the White Sox that Brett would only manage one hit, bringing his hit total to fourteen over the now seven game hit streak with two home runs and 12 runs batted in. Brett’s average now sat at .379 for the season and .467 during the streak.

The Yankees came visiting Kansas City next and Brett would have a bit harder time with Yankee pitching this time around. A series of one hit games would keep the streak alive and extend it to ten games. While he would only manage one hit in each of this three game series, they would come in the form of two triples and a double, adding five more runs batted in to his total.

Boston would head to town to round out the month of July and Brett would greet them with a huge game. He would kick out three consecutive multi-hit games with a 4-for-5 effort and hit a pair of doubles and a solo home run, leading the Royals to a 9-8 victory, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a ball hit by Amos Otis that Red Sox shortstop Rick Burleson committed an error on. Brett would finish the series adding eight hits, two doubles, a home run and three more runs batted in to his streak totals. His streak stats now sit at 13 games, .481 batting average, .846 slugging percentage, six doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 20 runs batted in. His season average now sat at .390.

The dog days of August would set into Missouri and the Royals would take advantage by heading out for a ten day, ten game, three city road trip. The trip would start in Chicago and Brett would start to cool off. With just four hits spread over the three games, Brett was able to keep his hit streak going, never going deeper than the fifth inning before reaching base. He would scrape out a run batted in during the opening game but fail to grab an extra base hit during the entire series. The streak was now at 16 games.

Brett’s hitting streak would be in jeopardy during the seventeenth game in Detroit as he would come to the plate leading off the bottom of the eighth inning. With the Royals losing 4-5, Brett would deposit the first pitch he seen from Dan Schatzeder over the fence, tying the game and extending his streak. The following game, in the top of the fourth, Brett would hit a three run shot of Detroit starter Milt Wilcox and keep his streak alive before adding a pair of singles and a run batted in to complete the Royals sweep of the Tigers.

The Royals would take the three game win streak north of the border to play the Blue Jays in four games over three days on August 8th and 9th. Brett would grab four hits over seven at bats in the double header, driving a double in the second game and collecting two runs batted in during the first. As if the double header was not enough, the Royals would need 14 innings to drop the third game, but Brett would get a single in his first at bat to extend his streak. The final game in Toronto would see Brett collect yet another multi-hit game, this time grabbing three hits, and pick up another double and run batted in. As the Royals would head home to face the Orioles and Blue Jays, Brett was now hitting .390 on the season again. The streak had reached 23 games and Brett was hitting .441 with a .731 slugging percentage, eight doubles, two triples, five home runs and 30 runs batted in.

Baltimore would come to Kansas City to kick off the home stand with a three game set against the Royals and Brett would continue his hot play. He once again would produce five hits over the three game set, never coming close to losing his hit streak and adding another triple to his impressive batting line over the course of the streak.

Toronto would arrive in town and hold Brett to only one hit in the first game of the series. The hit would come in the first inning in the form of an inside the park, three run home run for the Royals third baseman. He would add seven hits, two doubles and seven runs batted over the next two games and the Royals would sweep the six game home stand. Brett’s season average had now eclipsed the .400 mark as he was hitting .401. His streak had reached 29 games and consisted of a .462 batting average, .752 slugging percentage, ten doubles, three triples, six home runs and 42 runs batted in.

The Royals would head out to Texas for a short, three game road trip that would see Brett’s streak finally come to an end. The first game in Texas was more of the same from the now Hall Of Famer, Brett would produce his sixth game during the streak with at least three hits, going three for five. Rangers starter Jon Matlack would find the answer that no one had found in a month against George Brett, walking him one time in the fifth inning but not surrendering a hit to him, retiring him in the top of the ninth inning for his final recorded out before turning the game over to the Rangers’ bullpen.

Brett’s streak would end at 30 games. He would hit an impressive .467 with a .746 slugging percentage, a .504 on base percentage, 57 hits, 29 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 42 runs batted in. Possibly the most impressive stat was the fact that he struck out only three times during the entire streak. The Royals would go 23-7 over the course of the streak and Brett’s season batting average would sit at .404 when the streak came to an end.

Dan Uggla’s streak might have lasted longer, but Brett showed fans how to put together one of the most impressive offensive month’s that a player can come up with as well as reaching base safely in 30 straight games by way of a hit.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Classic, RoyalsComments (0)

Looking At The Rookies – NL

As we enter the final month and a half of baseball and teams start to divide into the really good and the falling apart. Players are starting to heat up across the league and the cream of the crop is rising to the top.

Daniel Descalso by Erika Lynn

Most fans keep a close eye on the names they know, but it is the names you do not know that start to become important in the stretch run. Not just for the teams that are playoff bound, but those that are looking to their future as well.

Here are three offensive players and three pitchers in the National League that qualify for the Rookie Of The Year award. If you are not watching these guys by now, it is time to start.

Taking a look at the offensive guys in the National League leads to a few names that may be worth examining. Danny Espinosa of the Nationals and Freddie Freeman of the Braves have both clubbed over 15 home runs. Darwin Barney of the Cubs is hitting .288 and has over 100 hits already this season. The Mets Justin Turner can boast 20 doubles to his credit and Dominic Brown of the Phillies has a .393 slugging percentage in limited action. Here’s the top three as I see it:

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
This is becoming a two-horse race but, in my opinion, Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves is pulling away from the competition. Freeman may not lead rookies in home runs, but he has put up a respectable 15 dingers to this point in the season. Add in a .296 batting average, .362 on base percentage, .474 slugging percentage, 55 runs batted in and 40 walks and you have a first baseman that is among the best in the league, not just one of the best rookies in the league.

The Runner Up
Danny Espinosa has been wrecking pitchers with power numbers that are impressive for a young man playing shortstop for any organization. The Nationals’ shortstop has launched 17 balls out of stadiums this season while tying Freeman for the lead among rookies with 55 runs batted in. Equally impressive is 12 stolen bases, showcasing that he is not a one trick pony and will apply some speed to his career as well. His on base percentage is 86 points higher than his batting average, which would be very impressive if he was not hitting .228 meaning he is reaching base at a .314 clip. His .422 slugging percentage places him second when ranked next to other rookies in the league.

He Deserves A Look
The Nationals have put together quite the young team and anchoring it all down behind the plate is Wilson Ramos. Ramos is putting together enough of an offensive season to get himself some looks in the rookie races. Hitting .248 with a .322 batting average and a .405 slugging percentage while parking 9 balls over the fence and driving in 34 runs can get you some press time as a rookie. Back it up with a fielding percentage of .992 and throwing out 35 percent of would be base stealers and a lot of teams would like to have a guy like that on the roster.

What may be more impressive in the National League is the crop of rookie pitchers that will be vying for a Rookie Of The Year nod this season. The obvious stats will see people talking about New York’s Dillon Gee and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel due to their dominance in wins and saves. Stat heads will point out Josh Collmenter from Arizona and Brandon Beachy of Atlanta as an under-appreciated players due to the lack of punch in the obvious categories. San Diego’s Cory Luebke may have the same problems on top of playing on a under-performing team that will keep him hidden from most fans’ eyes.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
The Atlanta Braves may be cornering the market on this year’s award, depending on if it goes to an offensive player or a pitcher. It is hard to argue against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. He does not just lead rookies, but leads the National League with 34 saves in 39 chances. His sub 2.00 earned run average has earned him three wins and two losses in the five games that he did not save and has been dominant over his 56 innings pitched. So dominant that he finds himself third in strikeouts by a rookie pitcher with 87, behind pitchers with more than 30 innings more than himself. His 87 strikeouts far outweigh his 22 walks and he has only allowed one ball to leave the yard all season.

The Runner Up
Coming in second to a player of that caliber is not a bad effort and if it was not for the season Kimbrel is putting up, it is possible that Cory Luebke would turn a few more heads in San Diego. A swingman pitcher who has appeared out of the bullpen 29 times and as a starting pitcher eight times, he is putting together a solid season for a team that is falling apart. His earned run average is just over 3.00, has pitched in 88.1 innings, and has struck out 91 hitters on the season. Only 22 walks to his credit and a measly six home runs shows that he can be dominant and stingy with the best of them and lands him second on this list.

He Deserves A Look
The New York Mets have struggled to win, been surrounded by rumors of trading their star shortstop and have faced financial ruin this season. In the middle of all of that stands Dillon Gee. He leads all rookies in innings pitched with 112.1, in games started with 18, and wins with 10. His earned run average is under 4.00 and he has struck out 74 batters to only 46 walks. The frustration with Gee is his hit batters, of which he has 11, and his home runs, he has surrendered 11 of those too.

Around the league there are pitchers and hitters that will look to capitalize on solid rookie seasons and avoid the Sophomore Slump. While these players are showcasing themselves around the National League, it is important to take a look at one player that is not on this list that will mean something more to our i70baseball fans. Here is our honorable mention.

i70baseball Honorable Mention
The Cardinals have produced more than a few rookies this season, on the mound and at the plate, but it has been one player that has shown that he not only belongs in the big leagues, but also that he is getting better as the season goes on. Daniel Descalso has built his average up to a respectable .262 while getting on base to a .339 average. His power numbers are low but his value to the team, playing multiple positions and putting the ball in play on a regular basis, is mounting and he is becoming a typical Tony LaRussa type player for many seasons to come.

As the season comes to an end, keep an eye on these seven players and their impact on their teams and the league when the dust settles. One of these players will take home a Jackie Robinson Award and etch their name into the history books. The rest will attempt to build on a solid rookie campaign and make a career out of it. Time will tell how well these names will become known.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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