Is this the beginning of the end for Daric Barton as a regular contributor to the A’s?
Sunday’s game marked the fifth day in succession when A’s manager Bob Melvin put out a lineup that didn’t have Barton’s name in it. On the 10-day road trip, Barton made only three starts at first base.
And if there was a game where Barton figured to play, this was the one. The Red Sox started John Lackey, against whom Barton has both experience (27 at-bats) and success (a .333 batting average). Three other members of the roster have better averages against Lackey, but no one has more hits (nine).
Barton and Brandon Moss, also a left-handed hitting first baseman, both made the roster out of spring training. The idea was that Barton would play first base and Moss would be the primary DH and both would sit against left-handed starting pitching.
It started that way, but it didn’t last long. Barton got off to a 2-for-26 (.077) start, each at-bat making it more difficult for the A’s to keep him in there when Alberto Callaspo was off to a hot start.
Things improved at the plate for Barton when he went on a 5-for-16 (.311) stretch, but he’s hitless in his last six at-bats lately. And there’s just been less playing time.
It didn’t help Barton’s cause Sunday that Lackey gave the A’s good reason to find a way to get one of their hottest hitters, right-handed catcher Derek Norris, in the lineup. Right-handers came into the game average .300 against Lackey while lefties were only at .242.
With Norris hot (his .367 batting average is the best in the big leagues for anyone with more than 60 plate appearances) and Barton not, it made for an easy call.
It also hasn’t helped that Barton, generally an above-average player defensively, has already made three errors in his limited playing time and hasn’t looked at the top of his game defensively.