Remember when former Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade scolded Darwin Barney because Starlin Castro misplayed a popup in July 2011? 15 months later, it looks like "Barn" needs a new nickname. "Gold" or "Gold Glove" is an improvement. Quade may prefer "Goldy."
Barney won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award on October 30, 2012. This comes just days after he won a Fielding Bible Award. He won the Gold Glove after he beat out Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill.
Barney committed his first error of the 2012 MLB season on April 17. He didn't commit another error until September 29. That was good enough for a 141-game errorless streak. He was three outs away from breaking the MLB record that's held by Placido Polanco. Barney had already surpassed Ryne Sandberg's 123-game errorless streak.
Barney was clearly the best defensive second baseman in MLB. Because of his defense, Barney prevented 28 runs in 2012. That's 13 more runs than either of the runner-ups. The runner-ups were New York Yankees' Robinson Cano and Minnesota Twins' Alexi Casilla.
Barney was the obvious choice for 2012 Gold Glove second baseman. I still wasn't confident that he'd win that honor. From 2008-11, Brandon Phillips won three of the four Gold Gloves for second basemen. Phillips has greater name recognition than Barney. He also played on a team that won the National League Central. The Cubs finished 36 games behind the Reds.
It's not like Barney beat Phillips in a bad year. Phillips posted the second-highest fielding percentage of his career. That means that two of his three Gold Gloves were won in seasons that he had a worse fielding percentage than in 2012. Phillips had a defensive wins-above-replacement score (dWAR) of 1.6. That's tied for the highest of his career. Compare that to Barney, who had a dWAR of 3.6.
Where does Barney fit in the rebuilding plan? There's no reason that he can't play a critical role when this team becomes a pennant contender. The San Francisco Giants don't have the greatest sluggers. They make up for that lack of power with pitching, defense and fundamentals. That has helped them to win two of the last three World Series.
At age 26, Barney is still progressing. Eventually, he may evolve into a player who can hit 10 to 12 home runs per season. Regardless, there's no doubt that he's a centerpiece of the future. I wouldn't mind having another player like Barney starting.
What should fans think about Barney winning his first Gold Glove? Major League Baseball got it right.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. HERE is his Twitter.
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