Every day this winter, there seems to be a new post on how adding this player or that player will put us over the top in the AL West. While I don't dispute that adding power at the OF corners and at third will provide our good pitching the run support it so desperately needs, I believe there is an in-house player who will step up this season and play a big role in leading us to an A.L. West title.
Daric Barton, at the tender age of 25, has shown an on-field discipline and focus that belies someone who would, say, dive head first into the shallow end of a swimming pool. Daric is coming into his own, developing into the player he was projected to be, and saw significant improvement in his offensive numbers last year, while continuing to polish his stellar defense at first base.
His improvement led Billy to say, "...He showed himself to be, in my opinion, the best first baseman in the league," said Beane. "He's also made significant strides offensively. I was quite pleased with what he did there this year, and I have no intention of taking him off first base." High praise from a respected baseball GM (who is so great that only Brad Pitt could play him in a movie).
With his "Staplehead" days apparently behind him, I believe Daric Barton will be a force to be reckoned with this season and could be one of those elusive offensive pieces we are seeking to put us over the top. He has shown incredible discipline at the plate and rarely hits into double plays.
Daric led the American League in walks, 5th in On Base Percentage, over 150 hits, number 7 in Fielding Percentage amongst first basemen, led the League in Put Outs. Barton makes everyone on the team better. How many times did Pennington or Kouzmanoff throw a ball to first that short-hopped first last season?
That's all I got, nothing earth-shattering or revelatory. And that is the point of this post. Simply a reminder that we possess a player who has the potential to have another great year and be the cornerstone of a good team. What do you think? Do you think Barton is poised to take it to the next level? Is there another player on the team that you think could have a break-out year?