Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Astros CF Starter in 2013: Brandon Barnes or Jordan Schafer?

As the season begins to wind down to a conclusion, many Houston Astros fans are starting to wonder which players have the best chance to take the field on Opening Day next year.

One position that particularly intrigues me is who will patrol Centerfield as the team makes its move to the American League: Jordan Schafer or Brandon Barnes?

Since his arrival to the big league club in early August, Barnes has hit .216 with one HR and seven RBI’s (coming into play on Sept. 30) as Schafer’s replacement in CF.

Schafer himself wasn’t anything special with the bat during his 2012 campaign, hitting just .211 in 106 games with four home runs and 23 RBI’s.

For me, the big difference between these two players is their defense.

Barnes has been outstanding during his time in Houston this year, and has become a staple on both web gems as well as ESPN’s top plays with his leaps, jumps and dives to take away extra base hits on a regular basis.

Schafer, in my opinion, is an average defender at best. While he has made some great plays, I never really saw anything that made me think “even without a solid bat this guy belongs on this team.”

Barnes was very successful in the minors this year, shooting through both AA and AAA on his way to the majors and doing so with some pretty solid power as well as hitting for average. I know that it’s only the minors and he has a lot of things to adjust regarding his swing, but I am more confident in Barnes making that adjustment rather than Schafer moving forward.

I am not a huge fan of Sabermetrics. I often compare stats such as WAR to salt. If used in moderation everything works out just fine. If used too much, you will leave with a sour taste in your mouth. For what it is worth, Barnes WAR is at a .2 while Schafer is at a -.9.

Schafer’s off-field issues have straightened themselves out. I am usually not one to focus on things like that, especially since he appears to have cleaned up his act. However, it needs to be mentioned. And while I don’t want to be too hard on Schafer, it definitely hurts his image. If I were a GM, I would be much more comfortable investing money into a guy like Barnes who has avoided trouble during his career.

If it were my decision, I would start Barnes and be confident that the bat will eventually come around.

Tags: Brandon Barnes Houston Astros Jordan Schafer

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