Detroit’s first move of the offseason comes early, as they acquire 2x Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart from the Cincinnati Reds.
It did not take long for the Tigers to fill one of their biggest needs for the 2022 season, as they acquired C Tucker Barnhart from the Reds just the day after the conclusion of the World Series. With Jake Rogers likely out for the 2022 season, Detroit was in need of another catcher to pair with Eric Haase. Barnhart is a nice complement to Haase for his defensive skills, while Haase will likely provide the offensive punch for the pair. Detroit could have chosen to ride the next season out with Grayson Greiner or Dustin Garneau, but Avila stated on Wednesday that Barnhart was one of their top priorities of the offseason. Given Avila’s other comments Wednesday about wanting to build a winning group going into 2022, upgrading over Greiner & Garneau, especially defensively, was a necessity.
What Barnhart Brings
The Tigers’ young pitching staff will greatly benefit from Barnhart’s presence. Barnhart had +5 runs from extra strikes in 2022 which was 7th in the league, and he was also top 15 in strike percentage. The Tigers’ best catcher in terms of runs from extra strikes was Greiner at -1. So, in terms of framing pitches, Barnhart is a massive upgrade and guys like Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning will be the benefactors of this upgrade. According to BaseballSavant, Barnhart excels at framing pitches that are inside to righties and lefties and turning them into strikes.
On top of quality framing, Barnhart makes the necessary plays. In 102 games last year, Barhart had a .998 fielding percentage. He committed only 2 errors in 929 chances. Although Barnhart did not have his best season in terms of throwing runners out in 2021, he was still above the league average of 25%, sitting at 28%. Additionally, in Barnhart’s 669 career games, he has only allowed 30 passed balls. Barnhart certainly provides the Tigers with a defensive upgrade at the catching position.
While Barnhart is not an offensive juggernaut by any means, he provides a steady bat and has the lowest strikeout percentage of any catcher on the Tigers roster. In 2021, Barnhart batted .247 with 7 HR’s and 48 RBI’s. His OBP and OPS were .317 and .685, respectively. Still, he is being called upon more for his defensive prowess than his offense, so the Tigers just need him to be average in that respect.
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