Darwin Barney Sets NL Fielding Record

How about a hat-tip to Darwin Barney for breaking Ryne Sandberg’s NL record 123-consecutive games errorless streak Saturday night at Pittsburgh.

The new record came and went without much fanfare, but there’s nothing cheap about Barney’s streak. He’s been the best fielding second baseman in the NL this season while showing he’s not just Gold Glove worthy, but the clear-cut winner.

The streak is but one example of how far Barney has come as a defender since arriving with the Cubs in 2010. Having already matched his games played at second base from a season ago (135), Barney has 11 fewer errors, turned 17 more double plays and improved his Range Factor from 4.92 to 5.15.

He played another clean game on Sunday continuing his streak to 125-consecutive games without an error–a run which began in mid-April and has spanned more than 1,000 innings. And with 22-games remaining this season, it’s still possible Barney could surpass Placido Polanco’s major league record of 141-straight games without an error at second base.

The bat, of course, hasn’t been as consistent for Barney. But given his encouraging work ethic to improve his fielding, there’s hope he’ll eventually come around at the plate, too.

Not everyone agrees Darwin will remain a staple of the Cubs’ rebuild, and that might remain true. Team Theo, after all, did explore dealing him at the July 31 trade deadline.

But even if Barney only improves marginally on offense, it’s still hard to depart from a solid Gold Glove defender up the middle, especially considering the Cubs’ thin pitching staff heading into 2013.

Additionally, Barney turns 27 in November beginning his prime years as a ballplayer. He’s shown not only the ability to improve his game at the highest level, but has done so while maintaining his high-character and winning attitude on a dreadful team, no less.

There’s simply a lot to like about this kid. And while he may not have been the answer Cubs fans were looking for at second base this spring, there’s really no reason to think he won’t be the answer moving forward.



Filed under Cubs Blog

2 responses to “Darwin Barney Sets NL Fielding Record

  1. Rule #1 of General Managing: You do NOT trade a Gold Glove middle infielder, especially with a young, evolving pitching staff.

    Barney is my current favorite Cub. You win with guys like him. He reminds me of Dustin Pedroia, only not quite as demonstrative. The kid has the fire in the belly and goes all-out on every play. As has been confirmed by several folks, this has been no cheap streak. On several occasions, he has been in error territory, choosing to make a play when other second basemen might have slowed up or held up altogether.

    I also think he’ll become a better hitter. He has shown signs of being a solid run producer and hitting in the clutch. Can he do it consistently? I hope so.
    (If he could hit in the .high .270’s, 10 HR, 60 RBI, I think we could live with that, couldn’t we?).

  2. I know I could live with Barney! Strong defense up the middle has always been a trademark of winning teams. Now it’s Castro who needs to reach a fielding level close to Darwin’s. BJax, meanwhile, has shown very good skills in CF which could make for a solid defensive threesome for years to come.

    Second base doesn’t need to be a dominating offensive position, either. That’s what the corner spots should be with guys like Rizzo at first base and eventually Soler and Almora in the outfield.

    But we know it’s more than just pure numbers a team needs in the clubhouse. Clubs need ‘winning people’ like Barney more than they do the high OBP of a Milton Bradley, which is why your comparison to Pedroia is spot-on.

    I think it’s safe to say Barney returns next season unless another club is willing to over-pay for him this winter…but such a team would really need to blow me away in its return package to hand over Barney. Seems unlikely.

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