Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Hit Man

Is this the guy that's going to become the first player in Mantle World to reach 2,000 hits?

James Barnes
Mother Canuckers
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Springfield, MO
Position(s): C/DH
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Unless he gets hurt, James Barnes is the guy. If you're like me, you're probably saying to yourself, "Who's James Barnes?" There are a lot of names I recognize in Mantle World for their hitting prowess - Charles Costello, Kevin Mullins, Quentin Keller, J.D. Acosta and the list goes on. These are names you see in box scores and recognize because they are the big bashers. I was certain they were climbing up the home run list and hit list. I expected them to be there, and there they were.

James Barnes, on the other hand, has been playing in near obscurity in the ordinary confines of Frontier Field in Rochester. Tucked away in the city formerly known as the "Flour City" and more recently known as the "Flower City", James Barnes has accumulated 1,813 hits over 10 seasons. He's 187 away from the magic number. That's a lot of hits to get in a season. It's not an easy feat, but if I put Mr. Barnes under a microscope, he'll get there this season provided he remains healthy (and he's never been on the disabled list).

Barnes has played in every single game since Season 7 when he missed only 5 games. He's reached 200 hits in a season 3 times and hasn't had less than 187 hits since Season 7. He's a career .311 hitter who's also sitting on 799 RBIs. These are all great statistics, but I dug a little deeper. This one's the kicker. Barnes is also closing in on another player record and although he's not first on the list now, he most likely will be at season's end. Barnes is currently 2nd all-time in Stolen Base Attempts Against with 964! That's right, runners have tried to steal a base with Barnes behind the plate 964 times! The only player in front of him is Bob Mays (1,002 SBAA) whose days behind the plate should be over. The good news for Barnes is his caught stealing percentage (about 28%) is not bad.

There's more good news for Barnes though. With new ownership in place, he'll be taking his game north of the border as the Rochester Rockets have become the Montreal Mother Canuckers. While Olympic Stadium is one of the least attractive ballparks I've ever seen, it does play well offensively (ballpark effects - 2,2,2,1,1). That news should keep Barnes warm on those cold Canadian nights.

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