The best defensive players sometimes need to count on their bats as much as their gloves to win the coveted Gold Glove prize.
But if that holds true this year, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney might be helping his cause.
His two-run homer in the second Monday off Houston Astros starter Armando Galarraga (0-3) were the first runs in a 7-1 victory for Jeff Samardzija (8-10), part of his 2-for-2 night batting eighth.
“I’m not up there trying to do that,” Barney said, though his fifth homer of the season–like his career total of eight–came at Wrigley Field and at a good time for the home team.
“When he does hit them, they seem to come at timely times,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Barney’s 2-for-2 night gave him 18 hits in his last 14 games, but it is his defensive work that continues to stand out more.
He played his 100th consecutive errorless game Monday, continuing to extend the franchise record at second that was once held by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (90 consecutive errorless games.)
“I haven’t sent him that text yet,” Barney said with a smile, his admiration for Sandberg entrenched in the four seasons he played for the former Cubs legend in the minor leagues. “I’ve got nothing on Ryne Sandberg.”
But he credits Sandberg for guiding him in the minors while he was a shortstop, their long talks about preparation and developing a daily routine as vital to success in the majors as talent.
It was Starlin Castro’s promotion from Class AA to the majors three years ago that brought an abrupt change of thinking to Barney about his path to the majors–not unlike Sandberg’s move from third baseman to second baseman.
Barney’s successful transition is paying off for the Cubs as they set about rebuilding.
Sveum believes Barney already is ahead of the pack for Gold Glove consideration.
“I know other guys have done a good job, but it’s hard to imagine anyone better at things like the pop ups down the line, turning the double plays,” he said. “It’s not just not making errors. It’s everything in his toolbox. There’s no doubt in my mind he should win the Gold Glove.”