Barton - ceiling

A reader named Rob H posted the following in a March 10th Diary called Daric's home:

barton groupie
I saw Barton about five times in 2004, and while I've compared him to Pujols value-wise, they are very different prospects and ballplayers.

For starters, Barton is about five inches shorter than Pujols and he has a funny build. Basically his legs are shorter than your average 5'11" guy and he's a little thick in the butt. So Barton probably won't develop the same kind of power that Pujols has. Barton's also had a variety of physical ailments early in career, which combined with his body type makes me wonder a little bit about his long-term fitness.

On the good side, Barton's plate discipline looked darn near perfect when I saw him: Throw him a strike he swings at (and usually hits) it, throw him a ball and he watches it go by. Pujols will swing at pitches out of the strike zone if he thinks he can do something with it, and depending on whom you ask, that may or may not be a good thing. But like with Pujols if you throw Barton a first pitch strike to get ahead in the count, be prepared to duck. Like the unnamed scout quoted in BA's list, his approach is exactly how you teach it.

Last and probably least, Pujols and Barton played at different stadia in Peoria. I don't know what the old stadium looked like, but it's 310 down the lines at the new park. The park evidently favored pitchers in aggregate, but I've wondered if Barton got a tad more advantage power-wise than the average hitter. Perhaps related to the stadium, but perhaps not, Pujols had 6 triples at Peoria and Barton had none.

He's still a heckuva prospect, so much as so that as a Cardinals fan I call it the Barton trade. But any comparison with Pujols should come with significant caveats.

Now obviously, no one has to rely on Rob H's assessment. But he seems knowledgeable and it seems substantiated by assessments I've read regarding Barton's athleticism on BA and elsewhere.

As much as A's fan's hope that Barton is the next Pujols, that's a pipe dream. Give Albert his respect. He's a once in a generation type player. That said, Barton doesn't have to be Pujols to be a GREAT player.

I would not expect a .331 season with 51 doubles and 46 homers out of Barton like Pujols did last year. He'll certainly fall well short of that even at his peak. With Barton's body type (short, lack of athleticism) he'll either be a 20-30 home run hitter with plus average or he'll have to sell out his average to hit for more power (ala H Blalock). Either way, you should be getting an OBP machine.

But I think this Pujols and future MVP talk is pure hype. Honestly, if I was an A's fan I'd have more fear that he doesn't prematurely demise (he has old player skills) ala Ben Grieve than optimism he'll be the next Albert Pujols. Odds are - something between these extremes.

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