Last week I wrote this article about Austin Barnes and his struggles at the plate. In my defense Barnes had gotten off to a 2 for 25 start and was hitting .091 at the time. For the record Barnes has languished at the plate struggling to hit above the Mendoza line since 2018. That’s over two years of horrendous batting, so I don’t think anyone could blame me for writing what I wrote. Then Barnes got hot, because of course he did.
Barnes went on a hot streak, uncharacteristic from his usual offensive failures. During the last week or so Barnes has notched five multi-hit games, while raising his average to .303 during the height of his hitting streak. Barnes reached base and hit safely in seven consecutive games. As of this writing Barnes is slashing .306/.358/.388 (15 for 49) with one home run and a 107 OPS+, with six runs driven in. In comparison Barnes drove in just 14 runs in 100 games throughout the 2018 season.
Perhaps Barnes read my article and was motivated to spite me? Not likely. Actually the catcher credits his success to a change in approach and states he was helped tremendously by clubhouse leader and superstar Mookie Betts.
Barnes is “taking swings with conviction,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s worked really hard, with Mookie, with the hitting guys, it’s been a long process. But Austin’s in a really good place.”
“He’s helped me in the cage, actually been in the cage with me watching me swing,” Barnes said. “That just shows you what kind of teammate he is, to take time out of his day to help someone else.”
Mookie Betts is a wonderful teammate. No wonder why the Red Sox won the World Series in 2018. Betts is not only terrific on the field, but terrific off the field as well. He helps his teammates and just being around a player like this improves everyone’s game. Barnes is benefiting from the wisdom and talent of Mookie Betts. It shows you how incredible he is. Betts is so good, that he makes other players better. I’m happy for Barnes. He’s always been a solid defensive catcher. He just couldn’t hit a lick. His feckless batting almost made him a liability. If Betts has fixed Barnes, and he is no longer an automatic out then I don’t have any issues with him being the Dodger’s number one catcher behind the plate.