Second base in an NL-only roto league. Makes you shudder doesn’t it? There’s Chase Utley, Inimitable Lord of the Keystone, and Brandon Phillips, Rarely Imitable Viceroy of the Halfway Point. And then who? Martin Prado? Skip Schumaker? Luis Castillo?!
Despair not, for there is an emerging middle class option contributing across the board at second base.
Behold, Clint Barmes.
Written off after a miserable 2006 (.220/.264/.335) Barmes is now on pace for 19 HR, 13 SB, and 80+ R and RBI. Through July 7, his slash line is a very respectable .283/.325/.483.
Heading into the All-Star break, Barmes is one of the top five second basemen in the NL, and looks like he can keep it up.
His BABIP, the first place to look for a fluke, is a tad high at .335. On the other hand, he is hitting line drives 24.5 percent of the time—an abnormally high number that represents good hitting. In fact, given that line drive rate, we would expect Barmes to have a .365 BABIP, so it could be argued he’s been a little unlucky.
Hitting line drives isn’t a new skill for Barmes. His career rate is 21.5 percent, and has been above 22 in three of the four seasons in which he has over 250 AB.
In 2006 and 2007, during his 515 AB of sub-replacement level play, he wasn’t hitting line drives.
His 18.1 percent LD rate in 2006 (still decent in comparison to the rest of the league) was an aberrant low point, and it was compounded by bad luck—a .246 BABIP when you would have expected .301. His 16.7 percent in 2007 was a career low, but he only had 37 AB.
When Barmes hits line drives, he does well. Last year, his LD rate was 22.5 percent and he hit .290. In 2005, when he was a breakout rookie, his 23.2 percent LD rate led to a .289 average. This year, he is hitting line drives.
The power surge is a little more suspect, but is not totally out of line with his career norms.
Barmes is a fly ball hitter, which leads to more HR, but this year—when he is on pace to set a career high in HR—his 43.5 percent FB rate falls below his career 46.3 percent. The increase in home runs obviously means that when he does hit flies, they’re more likely to leave the park.
His HR/FB rate this year is 10.6 percent, well above his career 6.4 percent. His career rate is dragged down by an abysmal 3.6 percent HR/FB in 2006. In 2005 it was 7.7 percent and in 2007 it was 6.9 percent.
Conservatively assuming his true skill level for turning flies into homers is 6.9 percent, and that he returns to hitting FB at his career rate, we should expect about seven more homers from Barmes in his next 300 plate appearances.
Barmes is likely to end the year with 17 HR, instead of the 19 he is on pace for.
Finally, we have speed. Barmes has six, five, and 13 SB in his three previous (almost) full seasons. His seven in the first half of this season look slightly above average, but not out of line with the 13 from last season.
His speed score has increased across his career, indicating that either he’s getting faster, or, more likely, he’s getting better at running the bases. This year’s 5.8 speed score is right in line with his career 5.7, so there is skill underlying those steals.
Finally, R and RBI totals in the 80s hitting in the two hole for the Rockies is eminently reasonable. Counting stats like those are most strongly affected by context. As long as Helton and Hawpe keep hitting he’ll score his runs, and Dexter Fowler’s .348 OBP and 17 SB put Barmes in a good position to keep driving them in.
A lot of people judged Barmes for 2006, but since then, he’s been a solid contributor at the plate and on a fantasy roster. Don’t overlook him, because Clint Barmes has the skills to continue his above average play at 2B.