Does Barfield Remind You of Anyone?

Back before the season started, when we were waiting to see whether Josh Barfield would win the second base job, we looked at Barfield’s MLEs and settled on Arizona’s Orlando Hudson as a comparable player (start at this comment and work your way down for a more in-depth discussion). Now that we’ve got 4 1/2 months of data to work with, I thought we might revisit that comp and see if it’s holding water.

To the numbers:

Josh Barfield vs Orlando Hudson — First Full Season
Barfield 2005 23 407 .283 .321 .420 .137 .304 45.2 .053
Hudson 2003 25 474 .268 .328 .395 .127 .283 52.7 .075
Stats are through games of August 14, 2006, and are courtesy of ESPN.

Not bad. Barfield is hitting for a little better batting average and a shade more power, but not drawing as many walks as Hudson did. Defensively, Hudson is on another planet (his range factor that season was 5.84; Barfield’s this year is 4.77, which is in the lower half among big-league second basemen), but on the offensive side, there’s not a lot separating these two.

Actually, there is one thing: age. We may have underestimated Barfield’s upside. The season he’s having right now is the one I was expecting in 2007 or 2008.

Okay, how about age 23 comps? An extremely unscientific process reveals the following names (note that these are unadjusted numbers, so it’s possible that some aren’t really all that comparable):

  • Roberto Alomar, 1991: .295/.354/.436
  • Craig Biggio, 1989: .257/.336/.402
  • Royce Clayton, 1993: .282/.331/.372
  • Wil Cordero, 1995: .286/.341/.420
  • Travis Fryman, 1992: .266/.316/.416
  • Barry Larkin, 1987: .244/.306/.371
  • Edgar Renteria, 1999: .275/.334/.400
  • Jimmy Rollins, 2003: .245/.306/.380
  • Ryne Sandberg, 1983: .261/.316/.351
  • Garry Templeton, 1979: .314/.331/.458
  • Robin Yount, 1979: .267/.308/.371

This is a nice list (hello, Mr. Clayton; what are you doing here?), but one thing I’ve learned when doing stuff like this in the past is that you end up finding a lot of guys who experienced what I call “freakish development.” In other words, we don’t want to get carried away just because Alomar, Biggio, Larkin, Sandberg, and Yount show up on this list. Most players don’t follow their path — if they did, the Hall of Fame would be a lot more crowded or have different standards.

Back to Barfield, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with any of the above names. Renteria and Rollins (never mind the batting average) are probably the closest, if you’re okay with the fact that they play shortstop. They’re not ideal comps, but at this point they seem more reasonable to me than Hudson.

52 Responses »

  1. I don’t see Boston making that trade…but I would make that trade in a second…

  2. Didn’t Khalil Greene raise his battting average about 50 points in 6-7 weeks? And he has slumped lateley because of injuries and inactivity. Give the kid a break.