For Brandon Barnes, 2013 has turned out to be a very good season.
On a roster that has been in complete flux, Barnes is one of the few players for the Astros that managed to remain in Houston for the entire season. The 27-year old outfielder waited a long time for this (he made his professional debut in 2006), but he has opened eyes and is poised to close the season as a major leaguer.
Barnes made his debut with the Astros last season and appeared in 43 games while hitting just .204. Even though he struggled at the plate, the outfielder endeared himself to all parties with his highlight reel catches and positive attitude and enthusiasm.
In Spring Training this season, Barnes was able to parlay that into a job as a backup outfielder, and he has not looked back. Granted it is hard to get excited about a .243 batting average, but there were times when he looked good at the plate this year. However, if you look at Barnes’ splits, your opinion on his potential for 2014 might begin to change. Against left-handers, Barnes hit .310 as opposed to hitting just .210 against right-handers.
Based purely on performance, those splits, his defense and speed (11 stolen bases although he did also get caught stealing 11 times), Barnes projects as a platoon player for next season.
“I think he’s got natural leadership tendencies,” Porter said. “He has natural leadership skills. A lot of times, people look at the leaders as the best player on the team or the guy who puts up the best numbers. That’s not the case the way I look at it. The leader of this team is the guy everybody else looks at and they know that person was willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team.
“They’re not just going to talk the talk, they’re going to walk the walk. Brandon Barnes is a lunch-pail guy. He comes to the park each and every day and he’s going to give everything he has, win, lose or draw. If something needs to be said, he’s not afraid to say it. Those are the qualities you look at from a leadership standpoint.”
Barnes deserves a lot of credit here as he is showing he knows what it takes to be a major league player. As players like George Springer make their way to Houston, players like Barnes are needed to help ease that transition. Plus his skill set of speed and defense is certainly valuable.