Tucker Barnhart’s potential outlook and impact for the Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers made it clear last season that upgrades would be made to positions in need this off-season, and they wasted no time doing just that when they got Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for just a day later the minor league infielder Nick Quintana acquired the World Series was over.
It was clear that adding a catcher was important, especially since Jake Rogers had surgery on Tommy John late last season, which will most likely keep him out until the 2023 season, and although Eric Haase had a very encouraging rookie campaign, is it is extremely difficult to draw him as the team’s starting catcher. A two-time gold glove winner, Barnhart is considered one of the best defensive backstops in the major league and is considered a fantastic leader and handler of a pitching staff.
According to Baseball Savant, Barnhart has a pitch framing rate at 79. When it comes to hitting, don’t expect him to leave any mark, so to speak, as his 2021 slash line of .247 / .317 / .645 illustrates subpar numbers and his limited skills on the plate shows. However, I believe his defensive prowess will more than make up for his offensive performance, which is why the Tigers made Barnhart a top target on their off-season wish-list.
Last season we fans saw a lackluster defense from Tiger catchers like Wilson Ramos and Grayson Greiner, and their inability to receive and frame pitches well has been an extreme disadvantage for the Detroit Tigers’ young pitching team. Beginners need all the help they can get when starting their careers and the frequency with which borderline pitches have been referred to as balls due to poor frame and catcher uptake has been extremely frustrating and costly to the team during the several victories throughout the season.
So I believe Barnhart’s ability to create and receive high-level pitches will work wonders for the young pitching team. Having an experienced and competent defensive catcher is such a valuable asset to a team, and that value is only reinforced when a team is made up of younger pitchers as the catcher can lead them through a line-up and announce a game that the Pitcher puts in the best position to be successful. Barnhart will no doubt instill confidence in the Tigers team, and with the combination of him and pitching coach Chris Fetter working with the pitching team, I expect all the members of the young team to make great strides over the next season .
The big question that fans have been worrying about since taking over Tucker Barnhart is how he will fit and complement Eric Haase, who exceeded all expectations in his rookie season with the Detroit Tigers.
I’m confident Barnhart will be the starting catcher for the team on day one, and for the season as a whole, I envision Barnhart getting the majority of starts against right-handed pitchers as he hits from the left and Haase against starts left handed pitchers. However, as we saw last season, Eric Haase is a very mixed hitter and with AJ Hinch’s willingness to change lineups regularly, the reps and playing time for each catcher can change very well depending on their respective performances during the season .
Looking beyond the baseball field, Barnhart is sure to make a huge positive impact on the Tigers clubhouse, and his teammates in Cincinnati have already confirmed the kind of attitude and culture he brings. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Barnhart’s catching partner in Cincinnati, Tyler Stephenson spoke about the impact he will have in Detroit and said, “Of course there is what he can do on the defensive side but in control of yours Pitching employees and their development, take it all in ”.
Stephenson saw firsthand the value of having a player like Tucker Barnhart on a team, along with what he brings to the field and in the locker room every day. The Detroit Tigers are a young, emerging team looking to take the next step in the battle for the playoffs, and having veterans around the young players is essential to team culture during a 162-game season.
That commitment is nowhere near a leap from the blockbuster deal, but the winning teams take these subtle moves that make a significant impact over the course of a season. Let’s hope this goes for the Tigers and Barnhart.