The A’s announced Tuesday that Daric Barton had cleared waivers and had been outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento. Barton played in 8 games for Oakland this season and over 23 plate appearances he had a .143/.217/.286 slash line with 1 home run, 1 walk and 3 RBI. It’s not really surprising that he cleared waivers, as he cleared waivers when the A’s DFA’d him earlier this season.
Anyway, all of this got me thinking about his 2010 season with the A’s when he combined for a .273/.393/.405 slash line over 686 plate appearances. He finished the season with a 4.8 fWAR, which was fifth best out of qualifying first basemen. His 2010 season was mostly remembered for the plate discipline he showed, leading the American League in walks (second in MLB) with 110.
Now, the past is the past and Barton has not been the same player he was going back three years ago, as injuries have plagued him and he has spent a significant amount of time in Sacramento. What this really had me wondering was, could Derek Norris of this season, be like the Daric Barton of 2010? Now before you all freak out on me, I mostly am saying this because of the current praise of Derek Norris’ OBP, which currently sits at .339. After having an 0-5 game Monday, it did dip from .353. So let’s say he won’t go 0-5 every game he plays in, could he have the same success Barton had in 2010, by walking a lot?
Now bear with me, I am doing all of this off the top of my head and research is being done as I am typing along.
Derek Norris has played in 34 games this season and over 121 plate appearances he has a .204/.339/.296 slash line with a .295 wOBA. He has taken 19 walks, which is good for 15.7% of his plate appearances (which is above league average). Up to this point in the season, it seems that the only thing he is succeeding at is his plate discipline.
Now going back to 2010, Daric Barton saw 149 plate appearances in his first 34 games, he had a .297/.414/.432 slash line and had taken 24 walks, good for 16.1% of his plate appearances. So Barton was not only walking a lot, he also hitting.
This season Norris is almost striking out 26% of the time, which for the record, is not good. In 2010, Barton was striking out about 15% of the time through 34 games, which is not a lot. In fact, it is little bit better than league average.
So it’s clear, as of right now, that the only thing these two have in common is that their first names are pronounced the same and that they both get/got on base by walking a lot. Derek Norris can be productive if he continues to get on base, but, not to state the obvious, I would like to see him start hitting more and striking out a little bit less. Daric Barton was never able to repeat what he did in 2010, but I think Derek Norris has the room to grow and to learn to be a better hitter.