As we continue to grade the individual performances of the 2019, today we take a look at Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Tucker Barnhart would likely be the first person to admit that his 2019 season did not go the way he had intended. In fact, unfortunately, most of the players on the Cincinnati Reds roster would be in the same boat.
Barnhart’s biggest struggles were at the plate, where he finished slashing just .231/.328/.708 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs. Back-to-back seasons of subpar offensive performances have many fans wondering if it’s time to upgrade the backstop position.
After struggling offensively for the entire first half of the season, an oblique strain sent Barnhart to the injured list for a little over a month during the middle of the season. Tucker was out of the lineup from June 22 until July 26, thrusting the starting catching duties onto the laps of Curt Casali and Kyle Farmer. Even Juan Graterol took over for a few games and we met Ryan Lavarnway.
Upon his return, Barnhart came back in a big way. During his time off, Barnhart spent time looking at the techniques of some of the best batters in the league and the research proved to be helpful. After returning from the IL, through the last four games of July Barnhart was slashing .462/.533/.538; and in the month of August was slashing .291/.391/.519.
In the August 4th game against the Atlanta Braves, Tucker stepped up to the plate in the top of the 10th inning with a tied score, 2 runners on base, and 2 outs on the scoreboard. Barnhart swung on the first pitch he saw and sent a 3-run home run into the stands to give the Cincinnati Reds a lead and eventually the win.
The Reds front office has already made some big moves in their coaching staff to improve next season and they have stated that playing postseason baseball is their priority in 2020. That means that this offseason, the focus has to be getting more consistent offense. Arguably, upgrading their catching staff is a way to do that.
But after seeing a better showing in the second half of the season, I’m inclined to think that given a full season with his new approach at the plate, Tucker Barnhart can make a big impact in the offensive lineup. While not what he, or any of us, would have hoped for; Barnhart’s struggles were hardly the biggest disappointment of the Reds 2019 season.