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It’s Barreto Who Never Gave The A’s A Chance

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks
Uh...the pitch was thrown yesterday.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sorry that I have to keep this brief, but a bulging disk (which is not what Michael Urban called it in one fateful tweet) in my neck is making typing a wee bit painful. Still I wanted to weigh in, and at least begin a discussion, around the notion that “the A’s never gave Franklin Barreto a chance”.

Barreto didn’t give the A’s a chance to give him a chance. From 2018 to the present the A’s have been a post-season contender, and in that position you can’t just hand the keys off for weeks or months at a time to someone whose career batting line now stands at .180/.210/.360 (50 wRC+), with a BB rate of 3.2% and a K rate of 42%.

It’s not the stats, either. If Barreto had, at any point, shown plate discipline, pitch recognition, or contact skills, he could have batted .178 and been given an every day gig. Proof? That’s Matt Olson’s batting average entering today’s double-header.

However, every time he was called up Barreto showed, yes in very scattered playing time, no signs of the skill sets needed to succeed in the big leagues. Contrast that to Seth Brown and Nick Martini, who also were brought up for ‘cups of coffee’ that turned into more regular playing time because they showed the ability to hit strikes and take balls and, to borrow a line from AA, the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ problem. Did the A’s need to give Barreto an extended chance in order for him to catch up to ordinary fastballs and lay off changeups a foot off the plate? Or did Barreto need to show some basic knowledge of the strike zone, of pitch recognition, of a plan at the plate, of the ability to have a plate appearance rather than letting every plate appearance have him, in order to get a commitment from a team on its way to winning 97 out of every 162 games?

If Barreto had shown, at any time, an approach anything like Olson’s or Brown’s or Martini’s, I don’t think his raw stats would have stood in the way of an extended look. My guess is that the reason he didn’t play more is that the more the A’s saw him the more convinced they became that he just didn’t have what it takes to be successful against big league pitchers.

Maybe a change of scenery will do Barreto good and perhaps some coach will hit on that one tweak that turns a pretty and whiffing swing into a force. But to suggest that Barreto gave the A’s the opportunity to gamble on him for an extended look on a contending team? He tied the A’s hands, not the other way around.

Lots of much baseball today!!!!!! Meanwhile, feel free to discuss the career arc of an athletically gifted man named Frankie.