The Braves traded Derek Lowe in a salary dump in another seeming example of team’s not looking much beyond won-loss and ERA records. Options are being picked up and contracts are being voided. Tony La Russa retired. There is plenty of news afoot about established Major League stars and quasi-stars. This is not about one of those.
A few days ago, during the World Series in fact, news came out that the Houston Astros had re-signed Brandon Barnes to another Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. Big whoop, you think sarcastically to yourself. And you’d be correct to think so; a Brandon Barnes transaction is not worthy of a lot of hoopla. You probably don’t know who he is. Many Astros fans probably don’t know who he is. He’s a career minor leaguers who has never been rated a top prospect and over 71 games at Triple-A this past season he batted .197.
In the grand scope of Major League Baseball, there are many more pressing topics to engage in and stories needing attention. But those stories will get written and written again and speculated on and set off another round of writing. How many pieces do you think CC Sabathia is going to generate this winter? I’d lay money on far more than are actually needed to convey pertinent information.
In celebration then of the unsung and often passed over, here are two extraordinary facts about Brandon Barnes’ 2011 season. He spent most of it as a member of the Oklahoma City Red Birds, a team that also had (briefly) Brandon Lyon and Brandon Wikoff playing. That qualifies Oklahoma City as the most Brandon team of 2011 as their three Brandons were more than any other team from A-ball on up had.
Barnes was not notable only for mere circumstance however. He also performed at a noteworthy level there. Despite hitting only .197, Barnes has a .294 OBP and a .402 SLG. He had only 45 hits, but 26 of them (58%) were doubles or better. Among hitters with at least 250 trips to the plate at any level, only Corey Carpenter in A-ball Asheville had a higher percentage of extra-base hits. That’s quite a bit of power there, Brandon!
If you made it this far, thanks for taking a brief amount of time to consider Brandon Barnes. He may yet make it to the big show. I’m not the best equipped person to evaluate that and it would be too early in the winter to form a concrete opinion anyways, but Houston is in a rebuilding state and Barnes could end up playing a role in that, but even if he does not, I would not consider this a waste. There are stories outside the realm of the Major Leaguers and the soon-to-be Major Leaguers and sometimes they ought to be heard as well.