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Astros Season Review: Brandon Barnes vs. the projections

How did Brandon Barnes match up against his preseason projections? Which areas did he improve upon? Which areas did he underperform?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This was promised a while back, but time is once again at a premium for me. Things should settle down next week and hopefully we can get back to full posting strength then.

For now, let's take a look at our first Astros review against preseason projections. Basically, we're going to look back at individual players from the 2013 season, what we predicted for them before the season, what the projection systems thought about them and how they ended up.

What we said

Tim wrote about Barnes in our preseason prediction. Here's what he had to say about him:

Barnes is a very nice option for the Astros as a reserve outfielder. He brings positive defensive value to all three outfield positions and provides a decent right-handed option off the bench who can run a little. I'm actually very curious to see what he can provide the club offensively.

Offensively, there's some things to be optimistic about but he is an older player in terms of prospects and this could just be hitting his prime. I wouldn't be surprised if he hits closer to what he did last year. Still, Barnes embodies the inspirational and motivational movement Bo Porter has instilled in his clubhouse: work hard, give max effort and win. One of the things I noted last year after Barnes was called up was that he wasn't intimidated by his lack of experience or talent. After one particular play on the base paths, Barnes was called safe on a steal or double, I don't particularly remember, but after the play he got up and motioned towards the dugout encouraging his teammates to keep it going.

Barnes' spectacular defense did hold up and much of what Tim said back then held up, but we'll get into that more in a minute.

What they predicted

Over at FanGraphs, they used multiple projection systems to predict how Barnes would perform this season. Here's what those looked like:

ZiPS - 148 games, .211/.264/.345, 29 doubles, 12 home runs, 180 strikeouts, 10 stolen bases, -1 DRS, -0.1 WAR, 2 percent change of 90+ OPS+

Steamer - 41 games, .241/.292/.393, 6 doubles, 3 home runs, 27 strikeouts, 2 stolen bases

What he did

Barnes sort of split the projections. He played in 136 games, which is much more in line with the ZiPS side, while hitting for an average like Steamer projected. Here's what he did:

136 games, .240/.289/.346, 17 doubles, 8 home runs, 127 strikeouts, 11 stolen bases, 7 DRS, 1.0 WAR

Basically, Barnes showed off some of the power he was projected to have, struck out about the same rate as everyone thought, stole about the same number of bases everyone thought he would. The key difference, and the reason why he outperformed his projected WAR totals was his defensive ability.

Now, we don't need to tell you that Barnes was excellent defensively this year. We can show you instead, through a series of GIFs.





We have plenty more GIF-worthy plays from Barnes, too. Those were just a representative sample.

So, the defensive spectrum was the only way that the projection systems really failed. Barnes followed up his brief defensive numbers from 2012 with more solid numbers in 2013. We've now got a baseline to suggest he's going to provide plenty of value defensively and should deserve at least one of Houston's five outfield spots next year.

The question now is about his bat. The projection systems did not get that wrong. While ZiPS was a little stingy with his average and on-base percentage, it nearly nailed his slugging percentage and strikeout rate.

Barnes had the same problem Matt Dominguez featured, walking very little but Barnes also struck out a bunch. The combination of those two things make him a liability as an everyday player. His power, too, is slightly questionable. While valuable off the bench, a .105 isolated power average is not spectacular.

Basically, he nailed what Tim predicted before the season. He was a solid reserve outfielder who could run a little bit and play all three positions. He was slightly better offensively than in his first round with the club, but only because his batting average on balls in play rose.

I wouldn't be shocked to see Barnes' projections come in similar to where they were last year and I wouldn't be surprised if in our season preview next year, we projected Barnes to be a valuable reserve outfielder who would be stretched playing every day.