Even I'm Unhappy With Daric Barton

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 11, 2014 at 9:27 PM

I'm probably Daric Barton's biggest fan and/or last defender, and I'm declaring, finally, that I'm ready for the A's to designate him for assignment, come what may.

Here's Barton in 2014: .143/.222/.161.

Here's Barton from 2011 to 2014: .214/.322/.283.

That's of course a surprisingly decent OBP given that he's hit .214 in his last 599 trips to the plate, but you can't slug .283 and be a productive first baseman. His defense is good, maybe even great, but at first base, the opportunities to distinguish oneself with the glove and arm are so few that it's impossible to make up the enormous offensive hole Barton puts himself in relative to his peers at first. The obvious contrast is to Josh Reddick, who (a) has hit better and (b) is more valuable on defense because there's more of an opportunity in right field to be valuable on defense. Even if Reddick is, say, five runs below average on offense, he's easily making that up on defense. For Barton, though, negative five runs on offense might be his ceiling.

Brandon Moss actually went 2-for-3 against Gio Gonzalez today, and his fifth-inning single was absolutely scalded, but still: if Daric Barton isn't going to play to keep Moss away from elite lefties like Gonzalez, then what's his purpose on the roster? Callaspo can play an adequate first base if Moss needs a day off or to play the outfield, and ... well, what else is there? Pinch-hitting? Maybe you'd bat Barton in place of Nick Punto in a tight situation.

Maybe.

Actually, no, probably not. Nick Punto, 2011-14: .246/.335/.326.

Seriously, Nick Punto is more of a power threat than Daric Barton.

The A's could do a variety of things with Barton's roster spot:

  • Call up Nate Freiman and reestablish last year's first-base platoon. Freiman actually isn't hitting lefties at all in Sacramento this year (.220/.319/.390), but he's slugging .489 against righties and, more to the point, is probably a better bet against Gio Gonzalez on any given night than Moss is.
  • Call up Kent Matthes. No, I have no idea why. But he's on the 40-man, he's probably a better hitter than Barton, and if you have another outfielder hanging around, you can both platoon Josh Reddick and let Craig Gentry start in center when Coco Crisp is hurt.
  • Call up Shane Peterson. Really no reason. Just call up Shane Peterson. It's probably a better idea than Barton.

It is difficult to imagine any team claiming Daric Barton's $1.25 million salary on waivers given that the last time he was any good in the majors, Josh Hamilton was the AL MVP. That's a long time ago! Nobody even remembers Good Barton. No current general managers have any idea that he was a good player once upon a time. So congrats to the A's after they designate him for assignment and waive him: they're going to get to keep him!

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