The Case for Daric Barton

I'm back to continue my series of making the case for the future of various A's players with Daric Barton.

I'm going to warn my readers now that this will be a fairly math-involved fanpost, but I assure you, it is not to put off those who are wary of the old number, but rather to prove a point. Moreover, my data comes from before tonight in which Barton had quite a good game, getting on base a few times, and stroking a double.

This post will tie in as well to Nico's excellent luck/skill debate on BABIP on the front page.

Without further ado, I give you Daric Barton's rate stats from 2009 in 114 PAs.

BB: 14.3%

K: 17.7%

ISO: .156

BABIP:  .237

Other useful information: Barton's career BABIP in the majors is: .278, and he has hit 3 HRs in 114 PAs so far this year.

Join me after the jump as I use these numbers to predict a full season of Daric Barton based on what appears to be his skill level right now.

For the purposes of this fanpost we are going to assume that these rate stats are indeed Barton's current ability level. Small sample size applies of course, but the numbers are not far from his career stats, they are in line with his minor league track record, and are for the most part not unreasonable.

I'm writing this fanpost for a few reasons, but the most prominent is that as I've watched Barton this year since being called back up I've been struck by how good he's looked at the plate. His pitch selection is excellent and he seems to be driving the ball well and making excellent contact. The basic stats have obviously not shown it, so I want to see what a full season of this, where his BABIP evens out, would look like.

So here we go:

A full season would contain roughly 600 PAs. With a 14.3% walk rate, this projects Barton to walk 86 times. This leaves 514 ABs (disregarding sacrifice flies, because I don't know how to project sacrifice fly rates and I forgot to try) coupled with a 17.7% K rate, giving him 91 Ks.

Barton has hit 3 HRs in 114 PAs so far, and for the sake of this study that will be extrapolated as HR/PA over the full season, for a 16 HR year.

Now we begin adjusting the stats with his BABIP. Barton's career BABIP is .278 and this is also the BABIP that ZIPS projects for him from here on out. With 514 ABs, -16 HRs, -91Ks, he has 407 ABs in which he puts the ball in play. Of these, 27.8% will fall for hits, giving him 113 non-HR hits. Add back in the 16 HRs and he has 129 hits in a full season. This would give him a .251 BA, with the BB rate, a .358 OBP, and with the ISO a .407 slugging %. This is a triple slash of .251/.358/.407. This is very reasonable, a .765 OPS which is OBP heavy which is good, making him a slightly above-average hitter.

I think this is a fairly reasonable estimate of his skill-set right now.

However, his career major league BABIP is very low. Now, it is possible it is just a skill that he doesn't have. But he has a minor-league track record of having relatively high BABIPs. So let's assume that as Barton gets more comfortable in the majors, his BABIP will rise to about the low end of major-league average at .290.

If 29% of his 407 ball-in-play ABs for fall hits, that gives him 118 non-HR hits, +16 HRs for a total of 134 hits and a .261 average. His OBP goes up to .367 (134 hits + 86BB / 600 PAs), and his slugging % goes up to .417, giving him a triple slash of .261/.367/.417 and an OPS of .784.

Thus with a conservative upgrade in BABIP to the low-end of league average, Barton become arguably the best hitter on the A's.

But let's go one further, just for the sake of analyzing Barton's potential, or maybe just because it's fun.

Barton's career BABIP in AAA is .305. Let's assume that eventually he settles into the majors and his BABIP reverts to his AAA career number. It's not unreasonably high at all, and in fact in 2007 Barton's BABIP was .324 in AAA. So I wouldn't call this a moonshot.

This BABIP gives him 124 non-HR hits, 140 total hits, a .272 BA, a .377 OBP, and a .428 slugging %. That's an OPS of .805, with his excellent first-base defense, making him a very good player right now, with just his current skill set and an optimistic but not over-the-top increase in BABIP. 

So, A's front office. Give Daric Barton another chance next year. It's much too early to give up. Barton only just turned 24, he still has lots of room to improve, and with just a little bit of luck he could be a very good player right now.

I hope you've enjoyed the musings, and I hope Brett Wallace can stick at 3B so we don't have to decide between the two of them.

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