I don't really know why, but whenever I think about Darwin Barney I want to pronounce his name with a Boston accent. I guess it makes it more fun to think about Dahwin Bahney rather than what Barney is actually capable of producing. He returns for his 2nd full season though he's probably not the one who should be starting. He may not even be the best back-up 2nd baseman the Cubs have. – mb21, 2-17-12
Sometimes you're just plain wrong as I was here. When I posted the projections I ignored defense, which is something Barney is excellent at. He was even able to beat out Brandon Phillips for this year's gold glove at 2nd base. That's no easy task, but he did it.
Barney isn't much of a hitter and never will be, but he's a fantastic defender. His projections and actual stats are below.
Barney's walk rate improved from 3.9% to 5.6% and his strikeout rate dropped to 9.9%. He does not swing and miss very often. Average swinging strike percentage was over 9%, but Barney's was 4.2% and it's the same in his career. He puts the ball in play, but usually it's not hit all that hard. He did have a higher ISO this year, which is something he said he was working on in spring training. He hit 7 home runs. He has 9 in his career and has yet to hit one away from Wrigley Field.
Not only is Barney a good fielder, he's also a good baserunner. He added over 5 runs last year on the bases and this year over 4. Over those 2 years he's stolen only 15 bases and added 10 runs to the Cubs. You do not need to steal bases to be good at running them as Barney has shown. He's a smart baserunner.
He's a terrific fielder. UZR had him at 13, FRAA at 11.3 and DRS at 29. Obviously the 29 isn't correct. Nobody is worth 30 runs on defense and the others are mostly in agreement. HIs rWAR is therefore ridiculously high because of the defense (4.6). His fWAR was 2.5 and WARP 1.8. It's safe to say he was worth more than 2 wins, but nowhere near 4.6.
At a league minimum salary, that's a lot of production. He does it differently than maybe we'd like, but runs are runs. Whether they're saved or scored, they matter the same. Barney just goes about it differently and he most definitely is a starting 2nd baseman. He is on the Cubs and he is on a bunch of other teams too.