CHICAGO – The Cincinnati Reds will be trying to clinch the National League Central while the Chicago Cubs move forward with a goal of avoiding 100 losses, but something else a little more under the radar will be at stake this week.
Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill might not care for the talk that he already is out of contention, but this race seems down to the two-time defending winner in Phillips and the newcomer Barney, who has now gone a National League record 132 consecutive games at second without making a defensive miscue.
“I think they're very different second basemen,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously we all know how flashy Phillips is and what goes along with that flash is he backs it up and he does a great job at second base. Barney is more of a traditional, fundamental, not as flashy but obviously gets the job done as well as anybody ever has in a single season.”
Winning a Gold Glove is more than just about the raw numbers, but if it was Barney has the advantage. He has only made one error compared to Phillips’ five and Barney has a .999 fielding percentage compared to Phillips’ .991 mark.
But as silly as it seems, the numbers that could make the difference might be on offense. Phillips is batting .289 this season with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs. Barney is batting .266 with six home runs and 40 RBIs.
So is there a Gold Glove prejudice toward better offensive players?
“I don't think on a whole,” Sveum said. “But I think anybody will say over the years that somebody got the Gold Glove because of his offense. That's just been part of the way it goes. But I mean it's not the norm. There's no question it's happened in the past.”
The way Sveum sees it, Barney’s defense is nearly as valuable as some of the club’s offensive performers.
“Sometimes there's no difference with changing a game with your defense or your offense and he's definitely saved runs and changed baseball games with his defense,” Sveum said. “He's a game changer defensively the way he positions, the way he turns double plays. And the offense, I think is only going to get better and better.”