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Dodgers Snub Brian Barton

Posted By R.J. Anderson On April 1, 2010 @ 8:00 am In Daily Graphings | 18 Comments

The Dodgers released Brian Barton. Meanwhile, Garret Anderson will evidently make the opening day roster. There’s something amusing about these two statements.

Anderson is a veteran. He’s fought in numerous baseballing wars endured in the Los Angeles market for years upon years. Anderson’s career has become a parody of itself. In the past he was always the choice for most underrated player, and now he’s just bad and overrated. Since 2005 Anderson has been an above average hitter once and above average fielder once. His combined WAR during that time is 2.8, but he’s been paid in excess of $40M to be an annually below average player. He figures to back-up the outfield and first base positions while pinch hitting as well.

Barton is considerably younger than Anderson, right-handed – which may ultimately be his downfall – and also an outfielder. His Major League sample size is too small to draw conclusions from and in 640 Triple-A plate appearances, his OPS is only .720, although that underrates Barton, who walks more than the usual minor leaguer. He’s still cheap, offers more upside, and he’s fast. If those reasons aren’t enough to secure Barton a roster spot over Anderson, then so be it. However, the Dodgers will regret this maneuver if the National League institutes a rule surrounding aerodynamics knowledge and scoring runs.

Oh yes, Barton has knowledge of aerodynamics, and as he shared in this interview a few years back, he grew up dreaming of being an astronaut, and how the pursuit of those dreams affected his status as a baseball player:

BB: When I was younger I had dreams. I wanted to be an astronaut growing up. As I got older and older, I really just wanted to be a baseball player. Everything else at that point became secondary. This is my dream and what I’ve spent pretty much all my life doing. And then from the outside world it was almost taken from me because a lot of people–the majority I didn’t even know–felt like they knew what I wanted out of life. That was one of the main things that hurt, especially when draft day came up. A lot of people who never saw me play, a lot of people I’ve never even talked to in my life now had what I saw as a pretty glaring role in determining my future.

That kind of bothers me a little bit because I think any time you make a decision on me you should at least come talk to me–know what’s going on in my mind before you just assume things.

As an aside: Human beings generally classify people based on three physical attributes. Those are: Shape, size, and color. For the life of me, I can’t shake the idea that somewhere, in some manila folder on some desktop is a scouting report that compares Barton to another black outfielder with speed and smarts; that outfielder being the scholarly Fernando Perez.

There is a case to be made here that Barton is a better player at this point in time. He is easily a superior defender and baserunner, and the average wOBA of his CHONE and ZiPS projections is .307. Anderson’s CHONE/ZiPS average is roughly .314. That’s about a run difference over 200 plate appearances, which disintegrates once the aforementioned defensive and baserunning are taken into account.

And hey, even if you don’t buy into the argument that Barton could be a Dodger, he should definitely be on Cistulli’s All Joy Team, right?


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