Daric Barton was perhaps the biggest tease in the history of the franchise. In 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2003 first round draft pick made his major league debut as an Oakland Athletic, batting .347/.429/.639 in 18 games. He hit four home runs and nine doubles, swiping a base and walking 10 times in the process.
Then, Barton became the most average player one could imagine. For two years, he made a minimal impact on the game and showed few signs of the power or plate discipline that had made him so useful that first season. He bounced between the majors and minors, filling in when injuries or trades made it necessary but never really nabbing a full-time job.
In 2010, Barton led the league in walks with 110. He still couldn’t crack .798 for his OPS, thanks to a continuing lack of extra-base power. That was the last time he played a full season, as he spent most of the next four years in the minors.
Most people remember Barton’s defense for his ability to stretch and pick a ball out of the dirt, but he also led the league in errors in 2008. He was ranked second and third, respectively, in 2010 and 2011, so it’s not as though he just had a bad year. The best description for Barton is probably a “Four-A” player – not quite good enough for the big leagues, but far too good for the minors.
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