Prologue: It’s funny – I had this post written up last night but waited until today to proofread and fact-check it. Yet my colleague Blair Tatrault wrote a great piece this morning about the merits of Worth over several internal options and several external options. It was a very educating, and ultimately convincing, piece when Worth is compared to current Tigers and trade-bait players (and Stephen Drew, who all but has a “Do Not Open Until June” sign hung around his neck), but my feelings towards Danny and Darwin remain unchanged. On with the show!
Recently I was perusing an Mlive.com article about the Tigers doing due diligence by having vice president of player personnel Scott Reid check out Nate Schierholtz and Darwin Barney. As one is wont to do, I scrolled down and started wading through the comments.
Now, to preface, I have written previously about how I believe the Tigers should invest in both Schierholtz and Barney, so I am a bit predisposed to both of those players. That being said, some of the things I saw buried down had some pretty loopy things being bandied about, first and foremost among them is that Danny Worth is a better option at short than Darwin Barney.
The exact quote was, “Darwin Barney is not an upgrade over Danny Worth so it is not worth trading for him….”
That is…wrong. That is very, very wrong.
Offensively, neither Barney nor Worth will ever be mistaken for Derek Jeter, or even Alex Gonzalez for that matter: Worth has a career ISO of .073, and Barney’s is .089. Worth’s career OBP is .307, and Barney’s is .293. Worth’s career wRC+ is 71, and Barney’s is 67. Worth’s career K-rate is 18.7%, and Barney’s sits at 11.2%. These guys shouldn’t be allowed to touch a Louisville Slugger, but Barney has a clear advantage in speed, where his Spd score is 4.7 and Worth’s is 2.2. Otherwise, this is like two blind guys in a butt-touching competition: inept and awkward.
Defensively, though, Barney is a titan compared to Worth. Barney is the recipient of the 2012 Gold Glove (meh) and the 2012 Fielding Bible award (wow!), whereas Worth’s defense is so mediocre that he can’t even crack a steady gig at a particular position. It’s not even worth the breath it would take to point out the disparity in defensive metrics between the two, suffice to simply say that Barney >>> Worth.
What about Barney compared to Eugenio Suarez, Hernan Perez, or even Steve Lombardozzi, potential internal options at shortstop? Offensively, Perez is faster, Lombardozzi has shown a bit more pop, and Suarez shows decent speed and some pop but still remains a glove-first guy. It’s pretty much a toss-up.
Yet, let’s be honest: defensively, Barney trumps them all. Perez is a great athlete and a very skilled second baseman, but his peripherals don’t compare, even stretched out to full-season size. Lombardozzi plays several positions decent-to-well, but is the master of none. And Suarez, at least to me, seems less than advertised: I got to watch him play shorstop the other day in a split-squad game against the Mets, and he botched three separate plays from the fourth inning to the seventh, and he seemed average the rest of the time. Also, Barney has even gone on record saying shortstop is where he feels he’s meant to be:
“Shortstop is my natural position,” Barney said. “I feel very comfortable over there. The past three years at second base I’ve still taken balls at short almost every day as part of my workout to stretch my arm out. So I don’t look at it as a transition. I look at it as moving over to short for whenever I have to.
“Who knows what’s going on or what’s going to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.”
What’s neat about that quote is that it comes from an article that notes how the Cubs plan on using Barney at short while Starlin Castro heals from an injury. Sure, this could just be to give uber-prospect Javier Baez time to transfer to second base, but could it also serve as a way to showcase Barney for any shortstop-starved teams? Distinct possibility.
What this whole piece boils down to is this: yes, the Tigers certainly do have in-house candidates to take over short this season while the shortstop of the future heals properly. But are any of those guys, specifically Danny Worth, better than what Darwin Barney brings to the table? No.