Daric Barton has had quite the interesting career.
The former highly regarded prospect, Barton, 27, is at a career crossroads. The A’s faith in Barton has dimmed and the hype that once surrounded Barton is difficult to comprehend.
When the A’s acquired Barton in the trade that sent Mark Mulder to the Cardinals, many people around baseball saw Barton as a good addition to Oakland’s farm-system. Unfortunately for the A’s, the only good thing that came out of the Mulder trade was pitcher Dan Haren.
Haren is now a member of the Washington Nationals.
The A’s meanwhile are left with Barton, who is trying to regain the faith of the Oakland front office. Billy Beane and his brain-trust, however, have seemingly moved on without Barton.
After hitting a solid .273/.393/.405 with 10 HR and 57 RBI in 159 games with the A’s in 2010, Barton derailed his career the following year when he went 236 at-bats without a home run. In 2011, Barton had a slash line of .212/.325/.267 with no home runs and just 21 RBI in 67 games played.
Barton ended up playing through an injury for much of that year, but Oakland’s faith in Barton lessened nonetheless.
Last season wasn’t much different. The A’s used a platoon at first-base with the likes of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter, with Barton out of sight. He did manage to play in 46 games last year, but hit just .204/.338/.292 with a home run and 6 RBI.
The recent acquisition of Jed Lowrie, which sent Moss’ platoon pal Chris Carter to the Astros, could give Barton a small window of opportunity for playing time this year.
With Carter out of the equation, Bob Melvin could look to both Barton and the newly acquired Lowrie for extra help at first-base this year. The A’s have already said that they plan to use Lowrie in various spots across the infield and given Barton’s epic fall, Lowrie would appear to have a leg up on Barton when it comes to playing time.
Still, the A’s could give Barton a look this spring. He has his work cut out for him definitely and while his defensive skills are strong, Barton’s offensive game needs serious improvement. Melvin is a coach that rewards the players who perform well, and if Barton can prove he can still play this spring, then I can see a scenario where Barton is splitting time at first base with Moss.
Barton does own a .281 career batting average against lefties compared to a .236 mark against righties. He also hits with more power when he’s facing left-handed pitching (0.159 ISO vs. lefties compared to 0.109 ISO vs. righties).
Still the odds are stacked high against Barton though.
In order for Barton to find a spot on Oakland’s roster this year, he’ll have to improve offensively and show that his defense hasn’t regressed any. In the end, while I do think that it is possible that Barton could find himself with a window of opportunity this spring, I feel that Barton’s days in green-and-gold are numbered.