Darwin Barney: Blue Jays Unsung Hero

If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to compete in 2016, they’ll need Darwin Barney to continue being a solid force in whichever role he fills.

 

 

If a team is going to compete, they need to rely on a certain number of players who excel at their position; they need All Stars. The Toronto Blue Jays have Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion. At any given time, this group embodies the All Star talent required to win. But, having this stable of thoroughbreds is not enough.

 

To compliment the group of top tier talent, teams need to have a supporting cast that can fill in from inning to inning, game to game or week to week. When filling in, this cast must not miss a beat; they cannot provide a drop off in performance. Whether it is at the plate or in the field, your bench players have to be ready to contribute at any time. This is not an easy task. Preparing for this kind of role surely requires, not only a unique physical approach, but a mental one as well.

 

It is for this reason that we need to stop and appreciate the contributions of Darwin Barney. The Toronto Blue Jays are enjoying quite the supportive season from the 30 yr old Oregon native.

 

So far, in 2016, Barney is hitting .292/.341/.391 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 47 H in 161 AB. He’s showing an ability to put bat to ball, which is helping him put together good at bats. His 85% contact rate is good. In actuality, it could be even better since last season it was up to almost 96%. He’s contributing a +WPA of 2.56. This means that all of the positive things he’s doing to help his team add up to a 2.56 Win Probability Added. While no one is expecting Barney to produce at elite levels, his wRC+ of 96 is a welcome surprise.

 

Every now and then, he’ll provide a little bit of pop too:

 

But, perhaps even more valuable than his bat is the defense he provides. The former Gold Glove winner is one of the rare players that you’d plug into the lineup for his defense and take whatever offense he can give you, his glove is that good. Thus far, in 2016, Barney has played 3B (70 innings), SS (138 innings) and 2B (202 innings). In total, his defense has been worth 8 DRS and he’s showing a total UZR/150 of 30.8. It should be noted that that is due to a value of 31.6 at 2B. When you think about the defense he provides, perhaps that old adage applies to Darwin Barney: ‘If you come into the game, at the very least,don’t let your glove hurt your team; anything you do with the bat is extra’. While we’ve heard that said mostly to backup catchers, it certainly applies to Barney.

 

Having Barney in your lineup provides you with great defense; the team does not miss a beat. Ever. Take a look at the most recent examples to truly appreciate his contributions:

 

HERE, he makes a sliding stop to throw out the speedy Rajai Davis.
HERE, his heads up play starts a run down.

How about this gem to double off Manny Machado!

 

Oh, and just when you thought Barney could not give the Blue Jays anything more, he steps in to PITCH the 19th inning. He did surrender a solo HR to Carlos Santana, but he also ended the inning fanning Mike Napoli on a breaking ball that was a thing of pure beauty.

 

Right now, Darwin Barney has provided the Toronto Blue Jays with a 0.8 WAR player. That’s the same value they’ve seen from Jose Bautista and Tulowitzki this year and way more than that of Russell Martin. That is not to say that Barney is an elite MLB player. But, it does point to the value that he’s brought to the table. When we look at the Toronto Blue Jays, perhaps, we need to throw a little more in the way of props toward Barney.

 

If the team is going to really contend down the line, one of the big reasons why will be because of a strong bench. Having Darwin Barney in the fold certainly has been, and looks to be, a bigger contribution than we thought when he signed for 1 yr and $1M.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.