Clint Barmes has been the whipping boy around Purple Row for some time now, and for the most part, he's totally deserved it. Coming into the 2009 season, Barmes had a nifty .263/.301/.405 stat line, was terrible prone to being an awful batter, and basically was the guy that would make the big plays but would simultaneously waste any benefit with his performances at the plate.
Now, the thing we know about Barmes is that he's a hacker who has trouble reading breaking pitches.
This season, Barmes has been a solid addition to the lineup, batting .285/.342/.494 for the season with a .361 wOBA (with about .330 being average). What's more impressive is his plate discipline. As we see from the batting line above, he's sporting a .057 IsoD. Compared to his .041 career line, he's walking more than his normal levels. Additionally, he's slugging harder, sporting a .209 IsoP, a full .060 higher than his career numbers.
What do we attribute this to? Well, first of all, his .336 BABIP isn't terribly sustainable, but if we compare it to last year's numbers, they're not that far off of his .329 BABIP. Granted, his .297 career BABIP would suggest that he's bound to crash and burn, but then again, his '08 season was a far cry from his '05 and '06 seasons. I'd be game to suggest that his 2007 AAA .321 BABIP might be more indicative of his real contact skills, and his '08 and '09 numbers give credence to this supposition. The one thing I hope for is that he doesn't end up with some freak injury that takes him out for any amount of time. He had something good going in 2008 when Reyes' slide knocked him out, and I don't need to mention 2005. I want to see him stay "good" while staying healthy as well. Granted, he did nothing with his 2006 playing time, but something clearly fixed him in 2007, or at least lit the fire.
But wait! There's more! Join me after the jump!
Anyhow, looking at plate discipline numbers, we see that his Swing% of 49.9% has dropped 2% (not a massive amount, but when you consider how much of a hacker he is, it adds up) from his numbers last year, and a little under 2% from his career numbers. But what catches my eye is the fact that his Z-Swing% (Swing% inside the zone) jumped from 65% last year to 66.9% this year, and more importantly, his O-Swing has dropped from 35.7% to 31.6% - and his O-Contact has also dropped significantly, meaning that he's making less bad contact and also grounding into fewer DPs.
Basically, he's taking some of those terrible hacks at balls and turned them into actual balls. Along with his IsoD increase, his BB% has bumped from 4.1% to 6.2%.
But we know that Barmes is never really gonna be an elite bat, anything near average is gravy with his real skillset: His glove. Duh.
The way Barmes is playing 2B right now, he's worth about 1.2 wins above an average 2B (extrapolated over 150G at 2B). He is an excellent cog to the double play and he has range that nobody else on this team can really touch in the infield.
Is this article meant to campaign for Barmes as a permanent fixture in the starting lineup? Absolutely not, but I'm praising his recent patience and success at the plate and his continual ability to wow us with his glovework. I still think Nelson/Gomez/Tulo/EYJ are gonna be the future of the Middle Infield, but for now, Barmes is an excellent piece to have around.
Sadly, now might also be the best time to move him.
Tidbits from around our team:
Our starting pitching staff is considered by StatCorner (the authors of tRA) to be above-average across the board, excepting Aaron Cook. Cook needs to string some more solid outings together before the advanced numbers are going to start liking him again. Leading the pack is Ubaldo Jimenez (who's surprised? Seriously?) with a 3.41 tRA and he's worth 11.1 runs above average - or basically a win above a league-average pitcher. Marquis leads the pack in longevity, having pitched well enough for an xIP of 81.7 (essentially the way he's pitched should have led to 81.7 successful innings this far).
Coming out of the pen, and this one REALLY surprised me, but our best reliever (in terms of tRA, pRAA, AND xIP) is Manny Corpas, posting a 3.01 tRA and 4.4 pRAA over 29.5 xIP. And it kind of adds up, as he has a lot of zeroes and several BIG innings, and he's still posting a 19:5 K:BB with 52.7% GB. We've seen him settling down as of late, and seen some flashes of '07 Corpas. The problem is that he's not getting a lot of the lineouts-directly-to-someone and the defense maybe hasn't turned the plays they should have - not in the sense of errors, but Corpas gets the grounders and they aren't always converted the way I'd like to see. It should also be noted that Matt Daley is already at 4.0 pRAA in about 1/3 the xIP. (Technically, Joel Peralta and Randy Flores have lower tRA's but they haven't cracked 10 xIP yet so I'm gonna go ahead and hold off hailing them as the salvation of the pen.)
Interestingly enough, our best batting pitcher this season isn't Jason Marquis, nor is it Aaron Cook. It's Ubaldo Jimenez, clocking in at a screaming .311 wOBA, only suffering -0.4 bRAA. That wOBA puts him as a better batter than: Yorvit Torrealba, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins, the rest of the pitchers, and David Ortiz.
That's it for this week, fair RowBots. Next week: Breaking down the effect that baggy pants have on a player's grit and hustle-to-it-ness.